Martinez praises team’s character in dominating display at Stoke
Roberto Martinez explained how his players felt they should have left The Britannia Stadium with three points instead of one on Tuesday evening, after a battling performance saw them come from 2-0 down to secure a valuable point.
The result moved Latics out of the relegation zone, but such was their dominance over the course of the 90 minutes, particularly after the break, Martinez believes they were more deserving of full rewards, saying:
“I don’t think we played badly in the first-half playing against a team trying to stop us from playing who changed their formation and made for a real tactical battle.
“We stopped Stoke from gathering any kind of momentum, but conceded a poor goal from a soft free-kick which was the only shot on target Stoke had, coupled with the fact that they had no corners all night.
“We grew into the game and dominated after half-time. It was always going to be one of those games in which we needed to show real character and resilience to come back from two goals down and take a much needed result.
“What pleased me most was that we kept trying to play our style of football and as a result became more decisive and did some things you don’t often see at The Britannia Stadium; scoring two goals from open play and prevented the home side from having a single corner kick.
“To be honest the players are really disappointed not to have taken three points from the game rather than just one which is a sign of where we are at the moment physically and mentally.
“Overall, it was a performance to be very proud of, and we’re going to fight for every single point there is left to play for this season.”
Ryan Shawcross and Peter Crouch pushed Stoke into a 2-0 lead with their only efforts on target all evening, before James McArthur and Franco Di Santo levelled things up before the hour-mark with a couple of superb team goals.
The Gaffer was delighted at the response shown by his team and in particular one of his midfielders:
“James McArthur was particularly good on the night,” he said, “understanding what it would take to cause Stoke problems and playing a big role in both goals.
“But it would be unfair to highlight one player ahead of the rest because the whole team was magnificent in dealing with everything that was thrown at them; decisions not going the way we wanted and Emmerson Boyce feeling his hamstring towards the end of the first-half.
“But it didn’t affect the way we wanted to play and the point is actually only a small reward for the effort we saw.”
Finally, there was a mention for 20-year-old Roman Golobart who was named in the starting line-up and made his Premier League debut.
Martinez believes the defender’s appearance was a symbolic and proud moment for the club:
“I don’t think you’ll get a harder test as a centre-half than to make your Premier League debut at The Britannia Stadium playing against the physicality of players like Peter Crouch, Cameron Jerome and Kenwyne Jones but he was superb in the way he handled that role.
“For me it’s a sign of what we’re trying to do at Wigan Athletic; he’s been working with us for three years now, coming through the structure of the club and to see him on the pitch is the result of all that hard work behind the scenes.
“We of course also brought on Callum McManaman and had Jordan Mustoe on the bench to further highlight the good work being done and serve as a proud moment for the football club.”