Wigan Athletic secured their fourth successive away win against Rotherham as they look to beat the drop.
Wigan did their chances of staying in the Championship the power of good with a 2-1 away win over fellow relegation strugglers Rotherham United at Millmoor yesterday.
The win means the gap between the Latics and the Millers is now reduced to six points and although there are only nine games left to go in the season, it is by no means insurmountable. Here are five reasons that give hope for Wigan fans that they can pull off a great escape
As Birmingham City almost found to their cost last season, momentum is crucial in relegation scraps. Relying on teams below to lose is always a sure-fire way to doom your team to failure because inevitably teams at the bottom will pick up points as they have more to play for and are more fired up. 20th-placed Fulham have just five points from their last six games and only six from their last ten; Rotherham have six in six and 11 in 10 - both of which compare less favourably to Wigan's nine from six and 13 from 10.
2) The away form
Wigan's position has improved markedly due to their away form, which has seen them win their last four away games on the spin, conceding just two goals and scoring seven. The Latics have away trips to both Fulham and Millwall in April and those games could be crunch ones with respect to deciding who stays up - at this moment one would have to favour the Latics to win them.
3) Malky Mackay
As maligned as Mackay is following the alleged texts he sent while boss at Cardiff City, there is no doubting his pedigree as a manager. Although the results have not gone his way since he took the role at the DW Stadium they are gradually starting to turn around now - at a crucial juncture in the season. If he can reverse the horrible fortunes they have suffered at home in their next two games against Watford and Bolton, Wigan have a very real chance of surivival.
4) Jermaine Pennant
Since signing for Wigan on 21 February, Pennant has played five times and the Latics have won three of those games. The former Stoke City, Liverpool and Birmingham City winger scored twice against Rotherham to take the Latics to victory. He could well be the crucial signing that keeps Wigan in this division.
5) The home form
Although Wigan have only won two home league games all season, the recent away form shows that there is a team there that can compete in this division, and if they can translate it to their home games then they should be able to save themselves. Again there is a lesson to be learned from last season where Lee Clark panicked and tried everything he could think of to break a horrific home record at St Andrew's when maybe a more calm and rational approach would have worked better. Mackay will know that each game has to be played on its merits and if he can keep the pressure of the long winless home run off the players they will break the duck.