MALKY STUNNED BY INJURY HELL
Charlton too good as Wigan crumble
MALKY Mackay claims Wigan’s injury list is the worst he’s ever seen but by the sounds of the boos at the final whistle, the Latics faithful are giving his excuses short shrift.
In fairness to Mackay, any manager’s best-laid plans would have been ripped to shreds by two injuries in the first half – including what looked like a major concern for Leon Clarke.
The striker required a neck brace and a stretcher after an awkward fall, with William Kvist already forced off the pitch due to a hamstring injury and Charlton a goal to the good through the sparkling Frederic Bulot.
Any of the feel-good factor from their midweek win over Reading – their first victory in eight games – then disappeared completely as Igor Vetokele, and a late strike from Addicks debutant Chris Eagles, settled it.
It leaves Wigan scrounging around for their first home win since August as their survival prospects dim by the week.
And Mackay insists he and his squad are not having much luck at present.
“I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this in all my years as a player and a manager in terms of the way things have happened with illness and injury,” he said.
“We bring in a new midfield partnership in Chris Herd and William Kvist – and we lose Herd for the season and now we lose Kvist, who is another very important player for us.
“To compound that we have an incredibly strange situation with Leon Clarke, who was on a spinal board taking oxygen at half-time, with an issue with his neck and spine, and off to hospital.
“We sent 16 balls across their box, young Sheyi Ojo was on fire, and even after their first goal I thought we were going to get it back.
“To lose Kvist and Clarke so quickly affected the team, and the way Herd and Kvist play in midfield – their attitude and the way they go about the game – would certainly have helped on that pitch.
“I make no apology for going for it in the second half and losing a third goal on the counter at the end.”
Charlton keeper Stephen Henderson had to be on red alert from the off, however, with a fine save from Latics front man Marc Antoine-Fortune.
But the visitors fended off Wigan’s early surge and took the lead in the 17th minute, Bulot making good on a solo run by smashing past Ali Al-Habsi at the near post.
The Gabon international then swung in the cross for Vetokele, who still had a lot of work to do to shrug off attention in the box and head home the visitors’ second.
That was virtually the last act of the first half and Vetokele picked up where he left off after the interval, nearly pouncing again after muscling past Jason Pearce and Andrew Taylor – and being stopped by Al-Habsi.
But Wigan’s misery was complete two minutes before full time as Eagles tucked away a fine counter-attack.
The grey skies seem to be lifting over Charlton, the victory following their impressive triumph over Brentford by the same score last week.
But boss Guy Luzon said: “We don’t need to look now at the table, the table’s not important.
“It’s important to move forward to the next game and to continue to keep clean sheets and score in every game. The table is important only at the end of the season.
“It was a game between teams who fight to stay in the league, a game of six points. We knew it would be tough because Wigan arrived with good momentum from the win at Reading away.
“We came with confidence and we were magnificent in defence, organised well and our goalkeeper doesn’t need to jump or touch the ball.”
HEAD MASTER: Charlton’s Igor Vetokele scores the second
ON THEIR WAY: The Addicks’ Frederic Bulot opens the scoring