Wigan Athletic 2 v 2 Burnley (Pre-Season Friendly)
Wigan Athletic manager Paul Cook welcomed one of his former clubs to the DW Stadium this afternoon, as Burnley arrived to continue their pre-season build up towards the new Premier League campaign. Manager Sean Dyche had a full squad to select from except for Steven Defour who remains sidelined due to injury.
The Clarets fielded a strong side for the final pre-season match away from Turf Moor with Ben Mee returning to the central defence after missing last weekends double header at Crewe Alexandra and Port Vale. As competition for a place in the starting eleven, the Clarets had the perfect start in the fifth minute with a delightful opener.
Ashley Barnes spun onto a precise ball from Ashley Westwood and slid a perfect through ball to send Johann Berg Gudmundsson clear of the Wigan defence, the Icelandic winger could have gone for goal but he spotted Rodriguez unmarked on the penalty spot before slid the ball perfectly into the striker’s path for a simple tap-in.
Just five minutes later, the Clarets extended their lead in fine style as Gudmundsson and Barnes were the architects again, when Ashley Barnes laid the ball off for Dwight McNeil who fired a terrific first-time effort into the bottom right hand corner from outside the area to make it 2-0.
Wigan created their first opening midway through the first-half, when Anthony Pilkington fired over the Clarets crossbar from just inside the area. The Blackburn youngster forced a fine save from Tom Heaton with a rising drive on the twenty-seven minute, then almost immediately he halved the deficit by turning home a low cross from six-yards.
As half time approached it was the visitors that were creating most of the chances as Johann Berg Gudmundsson beat the offside trap and fired his effort wide of the Wigan goal, before Ashley Barnes forced a fingertip save from David Marshall after plucking a long ball out of the sky and going for the bottom corner.
Windass tried the spectacular just before half-time, driving a shot towards the Clarets goal from all of forty yards and almost caught Tom Heaton out with an inventive effort, but the visitors went in at half-time winning 2-1.
Paul Cook’s team started well in the second-half and Wigan had an excellent chance to draw level shortly after the restart, when Lopes fired a ball across the six-yard box for the in-rushing Windass but he completely fluffed his lines. On the hour mark, Burnley were grateful to Tom Heaton for a fine save from Michael Jacobs after the Latics’ showed neat footwork to create an excellent opening.
A flurry of Clarets substitutions followed, but it was still the hosts’ posing most of the questions, the equaliser duly arrived midway through the half as substitute Gelhardt smashed home from 12 yards on sixty-eight minutes to make it 2-2.
Towards the end of the half the Clarets started to press for a winning goal and Chris Wood, who has been so prolific in front of goal throughout pre-season, poked his effort wide of the Wigan goal after a terrific threaded through ball from substitute Jeff Hendrick.
But neither side could find a winning goal as the Clarets turn their thoughts to two Turf Moor friendlies in the coming week against Nice and Parma, ahead of the big Premier League kick off on the 13th August 2019.
Speaking after the match manager Sean Dyche said, “There are a few players really putting strong markers down now. You always hope when you come to the end of pre-season that the team sort of picks itself, both through performance levels and the fire in their eyes. In my opinion there are a few who are putting down real markers.
The early part of the game I thought we were excellent, we had total control of proceedings in the right way against a side who did last season to stay in the Sky Bet Championship, we could tell they are game ready and we are not far off. We still have two weeks to go and we are locking in those minutes and we haven’t really gone into a game yet fully prepared because we work hard during the week.
Some of our play was excellent and we scored two really good goals, but also it was good in terms of sharpness, which we know is coming. We had a couple of horrible moments in the first half, which changed the flow and led to the goal and then in the second half it became a bit more topsy-tursy, but we need the minutes in the players and so the shape lost itself a little. But there were still some really good signs and certainly in terms of sharpness and the detail.”
Wigan Athletic – Marshall, Dunkley, Kipre, Evans, McLeod, Robinson, Lopes, Pilkington, Jacobs, Windass, Garner (Subs) Jones, Fox, Naismith, Massey, Roberts, Weir, Byrne, Gelhardt, Lang
Burnley – Heaton, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Gudmundsson, Cork, Westwood, McNeil, Rodriguez, Barnes (Subs) Hart, Bardsley, Long, Younger, Pieters, Hendrick, Lennon, Vydra, Wood
Goals – (Wigan) Pilkington (28), Gelhardt (67) (Burnley) Rodriguez (5), McNeil (11)
Attendance – 3,376