Sports Mole previews Tuesday’s EFL Trophy clash between Oldham Athletic and Wigan Athletic, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Both sides narrowly scraped through their second round matches back in late November but are poles apart in their league performances.
Oldham’s second consecutive goalless draw – this time with Hartlepool on Saturday – extended their winless run to seven matches in the league.
That does, however, also mean back-to-back clean sheets, after having conceded eight goals in the two games beforehand and having previously gone eight matches without a clean sheet in the league.
Their last shutout actually came in the EFL Trophy when they edged past Sunderland, with Harry Vaughan‘s 53rd-minute goal at the Stadium of Light proving to be enough to pull off an upset against a side at the opposite end of League Two.
The Latics will have to hope for another upset on this occasion, considering they currently sit rock bottom of the football league and will be taking on a side flying high in the third tier.
Wigan have not tasted defeat since October – an unbeaten run stretching to 12 games – and have won seven of their last nine games in all competitions.
They have slipped to third in the League One table through no fault of their own, however, as their festive schedule was obliterated by postponements due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday’s match with Accrington Stanley was the Latics’ third successive game to be cancelled, after having seen their fixtures with Fleetwood Town and Crewe Alexandra called off.
That means Leam Richardson‘s men have not been in action since edging out Oxford United on December 18 and they may have to overcome some rustiness, assuming this game is actually able to go ahead.
On paper, this should be an easy game for Wigan against a side 45 places below them in the football ladder, but cup football can spring surprises and they required penalties to progress past Accrington in the second round.
Oldham Athletic EFL Trophy form:
Oldham Athletic form (all competitions):
Wigan Athletic EFL Trophy form:
Wigan Athletic form (all competitions):
Oldham’s bright youngsters Vaughan and Benny Couto will be pushing for places in the starting lineup on Tuesday after dropping to the bench for the last two games.
Considering their two successive blanks up front, attacking midfielder Vaughan is the more likely to break into the XI as Selim Benachour may choose to mix things up in the final third.
Even if the COVID-19 cases and injuries in their squad have started to subside, it remains unclear how many of Wigan’s affected players will be available to start.
Head coach Richardson will closely assess the fitness of his returning men, but an XI similar to that which started the win at Oxford is to be expected.
Therefore, top scorer Will Keane – currently on 10 League One goals for the campaign – should start up front, with support from James McLean and Gavin Massey out wide. Max Power – like McLean, a goalscorer last time out – will feature in midfield.
Oldham Athletic possible starting lineup:
Leutwiler; Clarke, McGahey, Piergianni, Couto; Cisse, Whelan; Adams, Vaughan, Bahamboula; Hope
Wigan Athletic possible starting lineup:
Amos; Darikwa, Whatmough, Tilt, Bennett; Naylor, Power; Massey, Lang, McClean; Keane
We say: Oldham Athletic 1-2 Wigan Athletic
Whilst cup football does spring surprises, we do not see an upset happening here. It should be Wigan who are the Athletic to come out on top, despite their potential rustiness after an enforced break, so we are backing a 2-1 away win.