Wigan Athletic v Barnsley – Reds ready to push restart button
Their last trip there proved dramatic in the extreme in Easter 2017 when goals from Adam Armstrong and Ryan Kent gave the Reds a 2-0 lead – only for the relegation-threatened hosts to stage a miraculous recovery to win 3-2, courtesy of an 11-minute hat-trick from Nick Powell.
Barnsley’s previous excursion there on the final day of the 2015-16 campaign proved far more joyous when a 4-1 victory over the newly-crowned League One champions memorably secured the final play-off berth for the visitors – and dash the hopes of Scunthorpe United.
With both the Reds and Latics reeling after punishing recent runs of form, all bets are off heading into this particular contest in Lancashire, but given recent evidence, drama should be guaranteed.
After a largely seamless introduction to English football last term, Daniel Stendel and his coaching staff are enduring their most difficult spell at the club so far.
The Reds head across the M62 on the back of a five-match winless run in all competitions and a meagre haul of one point from the last 12, with a poor Carabao Cup exit to Carlisle United and the current absence of Cauley Woodrow and Bambo Diaby compounding matters.
But for assistant head coach Christopher Stern, it is a time for calm heads and sticking together, with such a sequence of results and form always realistically likely to crop up at some point following the club’s promotion to the Championship.
Stern said: “We knew when we got promoted that there might be times when we do not win; the coaching staff and players as well.
“It is important to stick together and work even harder than before. Staying positive is also a good part and we have to focus on the good stuff and not negative stuff. We should look at what we did good against Fulham and Charlton and in the second half against Luton.”
Around 1,300 Reds fans will head to Wigan today and while last Saturday’s home loss to Luton proved an excruciating watch in the first half, players and staff were entitled to be heartened by their stoic support on a tough afternoon as they seek to provide fitting payback today.
Stern added: “You could see the frustration and disappointment from the first half. In the locker room, we were disappointed as well, but you cannot change it and you have to start again.”