Boss reflects on defeat to the Robins as Latics rue two late goals at Ashton Gate.
- “Second-half, we needed to pass the ball better,” says Caldwell.
- Praise for first-half performance.
- Gary delighted for Luke Burke who made Football League debut after coming through the ranks.
Wigan Athletic manager Gary Caldwell was left in mixed emotions after his side lost late on at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate on the opening day of the 2016-17 season.
In an impressive first-half performance, Caldwell saw his side take the league through one of five debutants in midfielder Alex Gilbey.
However, late goals from Robins substitutes Tammy Abraham and Bobby Reid saw Lee Johnson’s side gain all three points on a special day for the club as their renovated stadium hosted its first game.
Reflecting post-match with LaticsPlayer HD, Caldwell assessed his side’s performance, saying:
“I thought in the first-half we were very good; we had a clear game plan and we caused them a lot of problems on the break.
“First-half we posed a real threat with Will [Grigg] and Yanic [Wildschut] and we scored an excellent goal that got us in the ascendency.
“From then on, we should have controlled the game and passed the ball better but at no point did we really have control and play our normal way which was the biggest disappointment for me.
“We had the ball in some good positions and kept the ball well up until half-time, but then in the second-half we didn’t come out, we didn’t pass the ball and we didn’t do anything that we’d mentioned at half-time, so I felt it was only a matter of time before the goal was coming because we couldn’t stem the flow of the game.”
Caldwell will leave Bristol taking positives from his side’s first-half efforts but the frustration remains with the Scot that his side were the masters of their own downfall.
“I think we showed that we can play and we can compete,” he added. “We have to pass the ball better - I have no doubt about that – but I think we showed we have quality and we can compete.
“You have to keep going for the full game and second-half we looked a bit soft, got pushed off the ball, didn’t win enough second balls, didn’t do the dirty things well and you’re never going to get a foothold in the game if you don’t do that.
“We said at half-time that set-pieces were the only way they were going to score and we kept giving them away and giving the ball back to them to invite pressure.
“I felt when they put two strikers up front it would make it easier because it simplified the game but we couldn’t get to grips with the situation and we caused our own problems.”
Caldwell, who also said the club will be working hard to add to the squad before the end of the transfer window, did have praise for academy graduate Luke Burke, who enjoyed the nice moment of making his Football League debut.
“I thought Luke was excellent again,” Caldwell continued. “To play in the Championship in a stadium like Ashton Gate, I thought he showed a lot of composure.
“He competed well in the air against Joe Bryan – who was their outlet – and it was only because he took a bang on the head that we took him off, overall we’re delighted with him.”