The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Paul Ken­drick

DEAN Smith said As­ton Villa’s Sky Bet Cham­pi­onship de­feat at Wi­gan Ath­letic has left him at the low­est point of his man­age­rial ca­reer.

Villa were sec­ond best across the board at the DW Sta­dium against a Wi­gan side that had won only one of their last 14 matches.

But goals from Gary Roberts, Michael Ja­cobs and Joe Gar­ner moved Paul Cook’s men to six points above the drop zone.

“I told the play­ers after the game this is the bot­tom of where I’ve been so far in my man­age­rial ca­reer,” ad­mit­ted Smith.

“And it should be the bot­tom of where As­ton Villa is.

“Lis­ten, I’m an As­ton Villa fan, and to lose 3-0 two weeks on the spin is very, very dis­ap­point­ing.

“That per­for­mance was rub­bish – it was very poor. I’ve got to earn my money now and make sure it never hap­pens again.”

For Wi­gan man­ager Paul Cook it was a wel­come three points after a wor­ry­ing run of re­sults – not helped by in­juries to sev­eral key play­ers.

One of them, Ja­cobs, re­turned from three months out to put Wi­gan two goals up after a great cross from Lee Evans.

“It’s been a tough cou­ple of months for us, since we beat Black­burn at home (on Novem­ber 28),” said Cook.

“But watch­ing us, you could never imag­ine we were a team that was in trou­ble. I thought from the first minute to the 90th we were ex­cel­lent.”

Wi­gan had flown out of the traps and after Reece James crossed from the right Win­dass could only steer his shot straight at Lovre Kalinic. In the blink of an eye, Wi­gan were al­most pun­ished for their profli­gacy, as they have so of­ten been over the past cou­ple of months.

Goal­keeper Jamie Jones – mak­ing his first league start of the sea­son, in place of on-loan Chris­tian Wal­ton -– rolled the ball out to Cedric Kipre, who couldn’t con­trol the ball.

That al­lowed Yan­nick Bo­lasie to feed Tammy Abra­ham, but the striker – with 12 goals in his last 10 games – smashed inches wide. Wi­gan went ahead four min­utes be­fore the break when, after a bril­liant save from Kalinic de­nied Gar­ner from Kal Nai­smith’s cross, the re­bound fell to An­thony Pilk­ing­ton, on de­but, who teed up Roberts, and the fin­ish at the near post was clin­i­cal.

Win­dass missed a great chance to make it 2-0 shortly after the restart, and Wi­gan sent on fresh legs in the form of Ja­cobs and Nathan Byrne.

Villa boss Smith went even fur­ther, mak­ing a triple change shortly after the hour mark, in the hope Whe­lan, Kortney Hause and Al­bert Adomah could make a dif­fer­ence.

But it didn’t af­fect the flow of the game, and Wi­gan scored fur­ther goals to un­der­line their su­pe­ri­or­ity.

A crack­ing cross from Lee Evans was headed home at the far post by Ja­cobs with 11 min­utes re­main­ing. And four min­utes later Win­dass was tripped in the area by Whe­lan, al­low­ing Gar­ner to slot home the spot-kick to make it 3-0.


POINT­ING THE WAY: Wi­gan’s Michael Ja­cobs cel­e­brates scor­ing his side’s sec­ond goal, in­set


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