Bristol Rovers head to crisis club Wigan Athletic this week hoping for a first league win in six.
The Gas have lost 4 of their last 5 league games and even new manager Paul Tisdale could not stop the poor form at the first attempt, as Rovers lost 1-0 at Swindon in his first game in charge at the weekend.
One of Rovers’ better performers this season in a side struggling for form as been former Barnet man David Tutonda. Signed after a successful trial at the club in the summer, the left back has ousted Luke Leahy and staked his claim to be a regular starter.
Tutonda played in the defeat over Swindon last time out and spoke of his disappointment, not only in the result, but also in the performance.
“We’ve let ourselves down and we let the club down,” Tutonda told BristolLive.
“I know this meant a lot to the fans, so we’re gutted, but we have to roll our sleeves up now.
“Tuesday’s around the corner and we’ve got a massive game at Wigan, and we have to go there to get three points.
“There’s no excuses on our part. We have to be better and we realise we have to get to work on Monday.
“A few of us more experienced players voiced our opinions, and we’re trying to help the younger ones.
“When you’re in a tough spot like this you need togetherness and ultimately your goal is to come out the other side better.
“We can’t lose sleep over this one. We have to learn quickly and get back to training on Monday and make sure on Tuesday we don’t let ourselves down again.”
Tisdale is expected to make changes after watching the defeat at the County Ground, with Zain Westbrooke expected to return to the starting line-up after being left on the bench last time out. Striker James Daly is out through concussion protocol with fellow frontman Jonah Ayunga still nursing a hamstring problem.
Wigan go into the game second bottom in the table having had a torrid 2020.
The Latics were taken over by Hong Kong businessman Au Yeung Wai Kay in early June and were 14th in the Championship going into July but soon after the win over Stoke, the new owner seemingly pulled the plug on financing the club and they were deducted 12 points for going into administration.
Final day relegation and a mass exodus soon followed with the 2013 FA Cup winners plunging into the third tier. The free fall seems to have continued, with a FA Cup First Round loss to National League North strugglers Chorley followed by boss John Sheridan leaving for League One rivals Swindon, the Wigan faithful have not had the best of times to say the least.
Now tasked (albeit temporarily) with getting the Latics out of the relegation zone is academy boss Gregor Rioch, the son of former Wigan and Arsenal boss Bruce Rioch.
Rioch Junior has been placed in temporary charge after caretaker boss Leam Richardson had to take time away from the game due to family reasons and the 45-year-old admitted that he does not want the role on a full time basis after Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Oxford.
“No, I’m an Academy manager, and I’m really settled and really enjoying what I do,” he told Wigan Today.
“I’ve been in the process of developing young players for the last 14-15 years, and I absolutely love the job.
“Helping young lads go out there and make a career in the game, and becoming good people, is my forte.
“This has been a little bit different, I’ve been a little bit out of my comfort zone.
“But I’ve enjoyed everything about it – apart from Saturday’s result.
Central Defender Curtis Tilt returned to the side in the defeat to Oxford and he is expected to retain his place in a fairly youthful Wigan squad with only five of the 18 that were in the Championship final day side still at the club.
18-year-old Thelo Aasgaard is in line for his first start after the academy product scored Wigan’s goal in the weekend’s loss at the DW Stadium
Max – Wigan Athletic 1-1 The Gas
Simon – Wigan Athletic 0-2 The Gas
Mets – Wigan Athletic 1-2 The Gas