Latics boss proud of his players as they earn 0-0 draw at Barnsley to extend unbeaten away run to four games.
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An even-contest up to the closing stages, the Tykes dominated the final 20 minutes of the match and Latics had to stand firm to preserve a clean sheet and a fourth consecutive away game without defeat.
Reflecting post-match with Latics PlayerHD, Joyce said:
“They were also willing to run and to close down and eradicate any problems that they might cause us when they had the ball and you have to be pleased with that.”
For all the pressure applied by Paul Heckingbottom’s side in the latter stages of the match, Latics had their own chances to win the game as Craig Morgan and Shaun MacDonald both had chances from Luke Garbutt corners whilst Yanic Wildschut spurned arguably the game’s best chance when he shot straight at Barnsley goalkeeper Adam Davies after being played in by Michael Jacobs.
“We had a couple of good chances to win it and on another day one of those goes in and you get a 1-0 win away from home and you’re delighted with it,” Joyce added.
“I thought Yanic worked his socks off for us and was unlucky with his chance because I have seen him score a number of goals in practice in that sort of situation where he drives in on his right foot and smashes it in the far corner. He took it a little bit early on this occasion but you couldn’t fault his effort and endeavour to work for the side.”
Joyce acknowledged in an ideal world he would have liked to have freshened things up and gone for the winner in the latter stages himself, though his hands were tied in terms of substitutions after Nick Powell was injured in the first-half and goalkeeper Adam Bogdan was stretchered off in the second-half.
Add to that the fitness issues he had amongst his ranks with a couple of players going into the game and Joyce was limited in how he could impact the final few minutes from the bench.
“Going into the game, we lost Dan Burn to illness this morning, Jake Buxton hadn’t trained much since the last game – and I thought he was fantastic considering that – and Michael Jacobs has been injured for three or four days this week as well,” he explained.
“Nick Powell goes off and then the keeper gets stretchered off as well and it limits your options.
“I was wary a number of lads may run out of steam and I had planned changes to keep the tempo going and drive the game in the last 30 minutes but with the different things that happened, it stopped us doing that.”
A fourth clean sheet in seven games was a further sign of Latics’ improved defensive form of late, excluding the early moments of Joyce’s first game in charge.
And he was pleased his side got back to their best in how they protected their own goal.
“You’ve got to draw a line in the sand somewhere, haven’t you? I came into the first game and it was over after four minutes,” he added. “I’ve been watching what the players have done over the past couple of weeks and they’ve worked really hard, what they did today is how they’ve been working in training every day.
“This has to be the base for us to build on but now we need to build on this to improve when we have the ball.”