Boss delighted with togetherness and momentum after with 2-1 win at Rotherham United.
- Resilience, maturity of performance and momentum pleases Mackay.
- Two-goal midfielder Jermaine Pennant praised for “sensational” delivery.
- Critical game and result brings us closer to teams around us.
Latics boss Malky Mackay could not hide his delight after his side secured a vital 2-1 win in their crucial Sky Bet Championship six-pointer with Rotherham United at the New York Stadium on Saturday.
Jermaine Pennant’s two free-kicks proved essential to the win as Matt Derbyshire’s first-half injury-time goal set up a tense finish in South Yorkshire.
And Mackay’s assessment was full of praise for the character and mental strengths his side delivered.
“We knew going to Rotherham that it was a very critical game and we knew that it was going to be a tough one; I know Steve Evans really well and I knew, having played his team not too long ago too, how tough a game it was going to be,” Mackay explained.
“They stand strong, stand firm and we knew we’d have to manage that. On top of that, we had a lot of fans who made the trip from Wigan and the atmosphere we knew would be terrific.
“The ingredients were all there for two teams to go at it and I think we did.
“We stood strong early in the game, worked our way into it and had a couple of nice moves that got us our two set-pieces on the edge of the box.
“We were disappointed to lose the goal just before half-time because I don’t think our play merited it – it was their only attempt on goal in the first-half.
“I thought our centre backs stood really firm again as far as the threat of the balls into the box when Jordan Bowery came on were concerned.
“Barring the fantastic double save from Ali Al Habsi late on in the game, they didn’t actually challenge our goal in the second-half.”
Regardless of the solidity and resilience in the performance, it was always going to be about the three points for Latics, and that’s what pleased their boss most.
“I’ve got to be very pleased with the performance and the maturity of it,” Mackay continued. “It’s simple, it’s the three points that pleases me most but, overall, the resilience and the momentum that my team have after three wins out of four and four on the bounce on the road, is important.
“It brings us closer to the teams above us but it’s about us getting the results ourselves; I’ve got a new squad here that I put together pretty recently from January onwards and the performance levels from them has been excellent, there’s a momentum and a togetherness because they desperately want to be here, even the lads here on loan.
“They’re enjoying what they’re doing at the moment and it’s certainly not reflecting on where we are in the league right now but that’s an overall picture of the season.
“The group that are here right now are showing that they’re certainly not down and out and that they’re still fighting.”
Al Habsi’s late save proved crucial to the three points but former Arsenal and Liverpool man Pennant was without the doubt the key contributor, with his first two goals as a Latics player.
“Jermaine Pennant’s delivery on both was sensational; it’s not until you look at them again when you see what he did and how he’s executed the free-kicks that you see how tough it was,” he added.
“Great credit to him, the way that he’s come into the football club, showed great character and humility to become one of the leaders right in the middle of everyone in the group in the last few weeks is testament to him.”