Manager’s first home game in charge ends in 2-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion.
- “We went through all the emotions.” – Caldwell.
- Boss “never doubted” midfielder Tim Chow.
- Fans impact at meet and great essential to victory.
A buoyant Gary Caldwell could not hide his delight as Wigan Athletic held on to record their first home victory since August as Brighton & Hove Albion were defeated 2-1 in his first game in charge at the DW Stadium.
A Tim Chow goal, on his home debut, as well as a late James Perch strike, secured the points for Latics in a game they knew they had to win if they were to keep their survival hopes alive.
And Caldwell dedicated the victory to the Latics supporters.
“I’m thrilled; it was a long and hard 90 minutes again and we went through all the emotions, we’re really delighted to win,” he said.
“Also to give the fans something to cheer about, it’s been a hard season for them so that win gives them a bit of hope and kept us in with a shout and we still believe we’ve got an opportunity to stay in this league.
“At the end when they threw balls into the box, I thought the players stood up like men and our back four suddenly came alive, put their bodies on the line and that’s what we’re going to need if we’re going to be successful.
“We’ll enjoy it tonight, recover and focus again ready for next week.”
Reflecting on a magical afternoon for youth team product Chow, Caldwell, who handed the youngster his first-team debut at Millwall in the week and his first home start in the victory against the Seagulls, praised the Billinge-born midfielder’s efforts as he scored the opener and turned in a fine performance.
“I’m really happy for Tim; people have doubted him and questioned him but I’ve never doubted him because I see what he does every day,” Caldwell explained.
“His character is there for all to see; even near the end when he was cramping up, I was leaving him on because I knew he would get through it, I’m really happy for him.
“He’s a hometown boy, been here since he was ten, and I’m delighted he can give these fans something to cheer about.”
Caldwell also spoke of how his substitutes, Emmerson Boyce, Marc-Antoine Fortuné and Billy Mckay made an impact, though it was Perch who, much to his manager’s surprise, who scored the winner.
“To be fair to Eric Black, Graham Barrow and the staff today, I thought the subs were superb and it was a real team effort,” he continued.
“When we needed the subs to come on, we put them on at the right times and when they came on they made an impact in the game and I’ve said we need that because it’s not 11, it’s the whole group that we need if we’re going to be successful.
“I told Perchy to stay behind the ball, don’t go forward, just protect and allow other players to score. He ran into the box and got onto the end of a cross and scored so I said don’t always listen to your manager because sometimes players know best!”
Last but not least, Caldwell commented on how the support from the fans after the pre-match ‘Meet and Greet’ returned, spurred the players on from the off on Saturday afternoon.
“We met them in the corner, there was a great turn out there, they gave us a boost before the game and when we came out they were singing and up for it and we’re going to need that again to get us over the line.
“We’ve done it before, the spirit of the club shone through at the end, and we’re going to need everything to go for us, everyone to back for us to get us over the line.”