WI­GAN EYE­ING SWIFT RE­TURN TO WEM­B­LEY

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Scott Hunt To com­ment on this match go to http://boards.footy­mad.net/

JAMES McArthur be­lieves Wi­gan have pro­vided the per­fect tonic to their FA Cup hang­over – claim­ing the Lat­ics have what it takes for an­other trip down Wem­b­ley Way this sea­son.

A week af­ter re­lin­quish­ing the FA Cup – bow­ing out on penal­ties to Ar­se­nal in the semi-fi­nals – Wi­gan tight­ened their grip on a play-off spot with an em­phatic win over Read­ing, who slipped out of the top six as a re­sult.

Jordi Gomez’s fine strike gave Wi­gan a de­served opener on the half hour be­fore Mar­tyn Waghorn knocked in a re­bound to dou­ble their lead be­fore the break.

Cal­lum McMana­man then smashed home off the bar to pro­vide the Lat­ics with a 14th win in 24 league matches un­der Uwe Rosler, leav­ing them five points clear of Brighton, who ended the day in sixth.

“A lot of people were think­ing we were go­ing to slip up and not be able to bounce back from what hap­pened at the weekend but ev­ery­one was pos­i­tive about what hap­pened against Ar­se­nal be­cause we put up a good show,” said McArthur.

“We were very un­for­tu­nate not to get through and ev­ery­one knew our fo­cus was to try and get back in the Pre­mier League so, es­pe­cially now that we’re out of the cup, we can fo­cus on that.”

“I think it was close to the per­fect per­for­mance; we con­trolled the tempo of the match and that’s what it was all about from start to fin­ish.

“We could have had a few more goals with a lot of balls flashed across the face of the goal and if we were in bet­ter po­si­tions we’d tap them in but I don’t think we can com­plain, we’ve scored three good goals and it’s an­other valu­able three points.”

Wi­gan travel to Burn­ley to­mor­row with the Clarets look­ing to rub­ber-stamp their au­to­matic pro­mo­tion.

“We needed three points against Read­ing and we’ll go into the Burn­ley game want­ing three points as well – hope­fully we’ll get them,” added McArthur.

“We need to keep per­form­ing like we did against Read­ing; when the man­ager first came in we were at it and all press­ing very well.

“Then I think we didn’t work it right for a lit­tle bit but we were back at it and we put Read­ing un­der a lot of pres­sure from the word go, hope­fully we can have more per­for­mances like that.”

Smart pass­ing play from the home side opened up Read­ing in the fifth minute, al­low­ing McMana­man to burst through the de­fence and force a save from Alex McCarthy.

But Wi­gan de­servedly took the lead in the 30th minute as Roger Espinoza slipped in Gomez who ar­rowed a su­perb left-footed strike into the top cor­ner from 25 yards. Wi­gan dou­bled their ad­van­tage af­ter 41 min­utes through Waghorn who knocked home the re­bound from six yards af­ter McMana­man had been de­nied by McCarthy.

Just five min­utes af­ter half time McMana­man put Wi­gan 3-0 up. Waghorn won the ball on the half­way line and fed the winger who fired home off the bar.

Read­ing of­fered their first threat since the open­ing min­utes af­ter 77 min­utes as Michael Hec­tor hit a spec­u­la­tive ef­fort just wide from 30 yards – but Nigel Ad­kins quickly turned at­ten­tions to Tues­day’s clash with Middlesbrough.

“All be­ing well we’ll play them at Wem­b­ley in the fi­nal and we’ll have to be a hell of a lot bet­ter,” said Ad­kins. “We’re in the mix, we’re in the race.

“We have to make sure that come Tues­day night we’re bang at it. We’ll re­flect upon this day and then who­ever wears the shirt of Read­ing on Tues­day night has got to go and run through a brick wall.

“But Wi­gan are the best team we have played this sea­son.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

FLEET FOOT MAC: Wi­gan’s Cal­lum McMana­man, cen­tre, cel­e­brates scor­ing their third goal

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