Leam Richardson’s Wigan side extended their unbeaten run to five matches in all competitions as they beat fellow League One outfit Bolton on penalties on Tuesday night in the second round of the League Cup.
Wigan had the better of the chances during the game and ended up with six more shots and twice as many on target in the 90 minutes, but they were unable to score as the match ended 0-0 in regulation time. It then went to penalties, where the Latics held their nerve and won 5-4 to progress into the third round of the competition.
Goalkeeper Jamie Jones will get the headlines after scoring a penalty in the shoot-out, before Nathan Delfouneso smashed his over the bar, but the player who stole the show for Wigan was defender Kelland Watts.
The 21-year-old, on loan from Premier League side Newcastle, was outstanding at centre-back and helped to keep Bolton at bay throughout the match. His defending allowed his attackers to dominate the game, albeit they were ultimately unable to make the most of their chances during normal time.
Watts was also key on the ball, with 69 touches during the game – the most of any Wigan player. Watts completed 83% of his passes, including seven long balls to stretch or switch the play in attack. This shows that he was comfortable with the ball at his feet and that he did not consistently give it away with loose passes out from the back, which could have allowed Bolton to put pressure on the Wigan goal.
Defensively, Watts had a near-perfect game. Per SofaScore, he won 100% of his duels on the pitch, winning four of his four ground duels and four of his four aerial duels. This shows that he was able to dominate the Bolton attackers and prevent them from holding the ball up. He also made three clearances, one tackle and two blocks, with the only blemish on his performance being that he gave the solitary foul away.
Watts, therefore, stole the show for Wigan with his showing against Bolton as he was able to show off his quality on and off the ball against a fellow League One outfit.
Hopefully, he will be able to keep up this standard of performance throughout the league campaign and help Richardson’s side to push for promotion back to the Championship before he returns to Newcastle.