Boss praises spirit, Donald Love, Francisco Junior and supporters in post-match reflection.
- Gary delighted with fighting spirit from his players as Francisco Junior bundles home later winner against Swindon.
- Praise for “outstanding” Donald Love on his full league debut.
- Caldwell hopes Latics fans can continue to see team they are proud of.
Substitute Francisco Junior bundled the ball home in the sixth minute of stoppage time to secure a vital three points for Latics, and Caldwell says it is no surprise to him that his side once again scored late to earn a result.
“We left it late to get the winner,” Caldwell told LaticsPlayerHD. “I thought we started the game excellently, with great intent in the first ten minutes, we really got after them.
“We didn’t get a goal, though, like we did against Colchester and we thought ‘what do we do now?’
“We struggled for ten or 15 minutes in the first-half but for the rest of the game I thought we controlled completely; we were the only team looking to win the game, and completely deserved the lead when we got it.
“I’ve said in the past that you can’t take away from the desire and the belief the players have and that’s never been in question. It is no coincidence that we have scored a number of goals late in games now, that is hard work and determination from the group of players, those on the pitch and those on the side.
“To have the desire to score late goals is a good habit to get into.”
Junior came off the bench to notch his first Latics goal and Caldwell was pleased with the Everton loanee’s impact.
“It was a fantastic moment for Francisco,” he added. “He did well when he came on and it is good for him because his injuries have knocked him back after he started so well for the club.
“He has had to find his way back into the squad but he came on and gave us a bit of energy and forward passing.
“It was great for him to get a goal, albeit a scrappy one, but we would take anything at that point.”
The only change Caldwell made to his starting XI, the first time he did so in four games, saw the Scot bring in Manchester United youngster Donald Love in place of Leon Barnett.
And the manager was ecstatic with Love’s full league debut, a player he believes epitomises the character of his team.
“I thought Donald was outstanding,” Caldwell continued. “For his full league debut to have that composure, quality on the ball and his energy level was really pleasing.
“I spoke to him afterwards and he said that when he gets fitter he will be even better and I thought that was great because if he can get fitter, what a player we will have on our hands.
“I have said a lot that this is a great group; they’ve got great spirit and that takes you a long way.
“We’ll need that spirit if we want to achieve our goals this year; we’re going to need every player in the squad to work hard to be available when called upon and we have to give big performances to win games.”
Caldwell’s final word was for the Latics supporters who stuck by his side today, and he says he hopes they went home with smiles on their faces after another important victory.
“We spoke about the importance of winning our last league game before two cup matches,” he said. “It was a massive game today in terms of keeping our position in the league and closing the gap on the top.
“The fans were amazing again, they have been all season and I am just glad we’ve given them a team they can be proud of, that is winning games and, though today wasn’t as free-flowing as it has been, I hope they went home happy with the late goal.”