CALDWELL WARNS OF MORE AS VALE FAIL
Latics are still on the climb
WIGAN manager Gary Caldwell feels there is still more to come from his side after a blistering performance against ten-man Port Vale saw the Latics move to within two points of the League One automatic promotion places.
Will Grigg became the first Wigan player in three years to score a hattrick after the referee confirmed he got a touch on Yanic Wildschut’s cross to give the hosts the lead inside ten minutes.
And Caldwell was full of praise for the striker, who added to his opener with a first-half penalty before completing the rout with a third on 69 minutes.
“I told Will before the game that I thought there were goals in it for him in this game and he came back with a bang,” said Caldwell.
“In recent weeks he has been sensational in both his hold up play and the way he’s got behind defenders. He had a slow start here but in the last few weeks he’s been brilliant.”
Vale went a goal down inside ten minutes after Wildshut’s low centre caused havoc in the Vale six yard box with the ball finding its way over the line via defender Richard Duffy and a sliding Grigg.
Wildschut almost doubled the lead four minutes later but was denied by Jack Alnwick’s chest before veteran keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen pulled off an excellent diving save from Matthew Kennedy’s header.
That was to prove the only highlight of the game for Vale who fell further behind five minutes prior to the break when Richard McGivern received his marching orders after hauling down Grigg in the box. The Wigan forward coolly dispatched the resultant spot kick – firing home off the crossbar for his second of the game.
With conditions worsening in the second half, Wigan continued to dominate possession and Latics boss Gary Caldwell was afforded the luxury of handing a debut to new signing Ryan Colclough before Grigg made the game safe with a fine finish on 69 minutes.
The former MK Dons frontman ran on to a through ball into the left of the area and behind the defence, picked his spot and slid the ball low past Alnwick and inside the far post.
The win has increased the belief at the DW Stadium that a return to the Championship could be on the cards for Caldwell’s men.
They strengthened their squad in midweek with the signings of Sam Morsy and Colclough, both of whom came off the bench to make their debuts.
And boss Caldwell likes the direction that the club is moving in.
“It has been a long process to rebuild the club to where we are but I think with our form in recent weeks you can see that things are coming together,” he added.
“There is still much that we have to improve on and the players themselves can see areas that they want to improve on.
“There’s a long way to go but there’s still work to become as good as I think we can be.”
Despite their heavy defeat Vale boss Rob Page felt his players could still take plenty of lessons from the loss that saw their hopes of back-toback away wins dashed.
Page said: “We didn’t deserve anything out of the game. To come to a place like Wigan, play the way we did in the first half and give the ball away too cheaply, there’s only going to be one outcome.
“You don’t need to give teams like Wigan a helping hand, and we certainly did that.
“I thought Wigan were excellent like they have been throughout the season. They kept the ball really well and we know they have quality in their team. They’re in the division they are in because they deserve to be but it was a good leveller for us and a bit of a wake up call.
“Everybody is getting carried away, and rightly so because we are where we are in the league, because we have done well and have been consistent in the main.
“But that game was well below par.”
AN EARLY BATH: Port Vale defender Ryan McGivern is sent off by referee Darren Drysdale
FLYIN’ GRIGG: It’s 3-0 as Will Grigg finds the net again to seal the deal
Will Grigg celebrates his side third a;sldkas