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17 April 2018

Boss heaps praise on his squad after late Will Grigg goal sees Latics edge closer to promotion from Sky Bet League One.

  • WATCH: Paul Cook on Wigan Athletic’s late win over Oxford United
  • Cook praises his side’s patience, the fans’ support and the importance of the squad in post-match assessment
  • Cook: “The squad has got us home tonight – they’ve done so well for us all season and we are getting very close now.”

Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook described his side’s late win over Oxford United as “massive” as a late Will Grigg goal saw Latics edge a step closer to promotion to the Sky Bet Championship.

Grigg’s late goal followed a frustrating evening where Latics dominated possession but were luckless in the final third despite good patience in their play on an important evening.

Reflecting post-match with iFollow Latics, Cook said:

“The win was massive, huge! When you’re a manager in those moments it can be difficult to make decisions.

“We wanted to start the game at high tempo and put them under pressure and, as the game goes into the latter stages, in my opinion your tempo should lower and your early stage performance should win you the game.

“You have games like that; Shrewsbury at home, Charlton under Karl at home, Blackburn at home, you have to be patient and our anxiety can’t lead to the opposition winning the game and sometimes in your pursuit of success it can lead to failure.

“Great credit to the players, though, we weren’t playing well and you could feel the anxiety around the stadium – the fans did great in the second-half to try and give us a lift – and it was a moment of magic from Devante Cole to tee up Will. I am really pleased for the staff, the fans, the players and our Chairman tonight, I really am.”

Devante Cole’s run and assist for Grigg’s winner was the highlight of the night and just reward for the January addition who was making just his third substitute appearance for the club.

Cole’s patience was praised by Cook, who acknowledged Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Rotherham United and the volume of games his side had played of late forced him into changes.

“Credit to Devante for being patient in the squad – the same as Jay Fulton – these lads have played a massive part,” he continued.

“The stats on our game on Saturday were really poor for us in terms of work rate, distance covered and runs etc. – our players were showing the first signs of the season catching up on them.

“Nick Powell missed out injured, Nathan Byrne had a tight hamstring, so we had to brave with our decisions and the squad has got us home tonight – they’ve done so well for us all season and we are getting very close now.”

Whilst the win puts Latics potentially one victory from promotion, Cook admitted his side have to remain focused with Blackburn Rovers and Shrewsbury Town also relentless in their respective promotion pushes.

“We must stay focused now,” Cook explained. “Things can go wrong so quickly in football. We just keep going – we have hit 90 points now and if we’d hit 80 at the start of the season I would have felt we’d have had a good year so to get 90 is a great achievement.

“We are going to need more; Shrewsbury have had an outstanding season and I know they lost tonight and will be a bit flat but they don’t deserve to be or need to be because they have done themselves proud all year and I know Paul will pick them up and they’ll go again.

“Blackburn have lost one in 31 league games so two going into three is going to be difficult but for us we just stay focused on the job in hand, we go to Fleetwood, do what we can and move on again.”

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