Coyle says improvement is needed but couldn’t be happier with character shown
Owen Coyle said his side paid the price for defensive errors against Middlesbrough at the DW Stadium on Sunday afternoon, but couldn’t fault the character of his team to claw back a losing scoreline for the second time in a week and ensure they remain unbeaten at home so far this season.
Latics were 1-0 up in the first half through a Grant Holt penalty, but goals from George Friend and Grant Leadbitter put the visitors ahead either side of half time before a late Jordi Gomez free kick shared the spoils.
Analysing the game, Coyle said:
“We go into every game wanting to win, especially at home so it’s disappointing to drop two points.
“I thought we started the game very well, scored a penalty to take the lead and should in all honesty have been awarded another two spot kicks which would have put us out of sight.
“But we allowed Middlesbrough to come back into the game, have a bit more possession and took our foot off the gas when we should have been pushing on to put the game to bed.
“Middlesbrough’s first goal is easily avoidable and just as we were enjoying our best spell of the second half they scored again, with a long ball forward which we should have dealt with better.
“We were indecisive at the back and got punished, but the response from the team was fantastic to get back level and push forward late on to try and score a winner.
“Overall we need to defend better; we’re one of the division’s top scorers, but we’ve conceded five goals at the other end and we need to get that out of our system quickly.”
The Gaffer continued by vowing his side would continue to develop as the season progresses, but that the mental strength they have shown so far has been crucial:
“Wherever I’ve been as a Manager I’ve prided myself on having a group of players who have a real desire to do well for their team and their football club.
“At 2-1 down I can understand the frustrations from the home fans, but we’ve got to keep sticking together because we’ve shown already how strong we can be when we’re all pulling the same way.
“We’ll keep going from strength to strength; we’re four games into a 46-game season so we’re going to keep growing together and getting better.”
Shaun Maloney missed the game through an injury picked up earlier in the week, whilst Grant Holt was taken off during the second half, but the Gaffer is hopeful they’ll be up and running again soon, saying:
“Shaun suffered a gash on his foot against Doncaster Rovers but despite a late fitness test his movement wasn’t great so we thought it best to allow him more time to recover, and hopefully he’ll be fit again for next weekend.
“We’ll assess Grant’s knock this week to discover the true extent of his injury. He’s such a whole-hearted player that you want him on the pitch at all times so hopefully he’ll be fighting fit again quickly.”