Dave Artell pleased to end ‘toughest week’ with Crewe win over Wigan
Dave Artell admitted he had endured his hardest week in football management after Covid-hit Crewe emerged to beat Wigan 3-0.
Four of the Cheshire club’s squad have been self-isolating over the past week, with two of those players, Ryan Wintle and Omar Beckles, able to return to be part of an emphatic win driven by a powerful first-half display.
Beckles’ positive test was instrumental in the cancellation of last weekend’s fixture at Oxford, but the former Shrewsbury defender was cleared to play by the EFL and managed 80 minutes off the bench after Donervon Daniels was injured attempting to force home an early chance.
Callum Ainley seized the opportunity of his first start of the season and, along with Charlie Kirk, led Crewe’s attacking charge. Ainley’s delivery set up young defender Luke Offord to head home his first senior goal after 27 minutes and then Kirk slipped in Harry Pickering down the left who drove in the second five minutes before the break.
Crewe always looked likely to score more and, while Wigan improved after the break, Mikael Mandron added a third from close range.
Artell admitted: “It’s been the toughest week of my managerial career. They don’t teach you that on these courses but we just want to play football without taking risks with anyone’s health and that will be the case going forward, as it was last week.”
“We did level a little bit of criticism at them at half-time as we felt we should have had four or five – if we become more ruthless in the box then someone is going to get a tonking.
“We’ve worked hard with the players and they have got better in every game they have played this season and that gives us great hope that they are finding their feet at this level.”
Kirk, though, got off on the wrong foot when under pressure from Gavin Massey he sent the ball inadvertently looping towards the top of his own goal and keeper Dave Richards did well to tip over.
Kal Naismith blasted over Wigan’s best chance of the game from the resulting corner and, despite heroics from keeper Jamie Jones, who made a string of saves, including two at point blank range from Daniels and Daniel Powell, the Latics were soon reeling.
After the break Mandron made up for a couple of bad misses, tapping home after 59 minutes after Jones thwarted Ainley and then Powell at the far post.
Wigan boss John Sheridan said: “Losing any game is always a downer, but more than anything it was a very disappointing performance and it was something I didn’t expect from us.
“I expect a lot better from us with what we’ve got in the team. We had two positive results and to come out and perform like we did as a manager it is hard to take.
“Crewe were sharper, they were better on the ball and they had more options when they had the ball. It probably should have been 3-0 but Jamie Jones made some excellent saves.”