Graham Barrow admitted Wigan Athletic’s front six ‘have to do better’ following the hugely-damaging 1-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Blackburn.
The home side always looked the side most likely to score and, despite a fine effort from the Latics defence, the only goal eventually arrived just before the hour mark through Marvin Emnes.
In response, Barrow’s side struggled to make Rovers goalkeeper Jason Steele do any meaningful work, leaving them deep in the relegation mire with just 11 games to go.
“It’s disappointing really,” acknowledged Barrow, who took charge alongside Andy Welsh, with stricken boss Warren Joyce making a surprise appearance in the stands sporting an eye patch.
“This was a massive game for both teams, and Blackburn showed that little bit of quality needed to win.
“We think we’ve got quality on the pitch, and we do have lads at the back who battle away and keep you in the game.
“I think the finger has to be pointed at those further up the pitch - from the midfield onwards - who have to do better.
“There’s different ways to score, and it’s probably down to commitment, bravery to get forward.
“That certainly wasn’t there in the first half, and when it started to improve in the second half that was when we conceded.”
Wigan’s afternoon was summed up at the three-quarter mark when they twice failed to make a substitution properly to get striker Will Grigg on to the field.
First the number of Omar Bogle was held up - a decision that prompted loud boos from the 1,965-strong away end - which was quickly changed to that of Ryan Tunnicliffe, who also jogged over to the technical area before being sent back on.
Finally right-back Callum Connolly was withdrawn, but the whole episode underlined how it’s going for Latics at the moment.
“Callum was always the one who was coming off,” confirmed Barrow.
“I’d mentioned to Warren about moving Jamie (Hanson) to right-back...Jamie takes great set-pieces, and I thought we needed that.
“It was just a misunderstanding with the fourth official and the cards really.
“I’m not looking to blame him, but the decision was made - whether he’s misread one of the numbers, I’m not too sure.
“But they were positive substitutions, and it proved to be that way, because we did have a good go. It was out best attacking spell of the game.
“It was just one of those things.”
Barrow was quick to pay tribute to Joyce for defying doctor’s orders to show his commitment to the cause.
“To his credit, there’s not many people who would have come to the game under the circumstances,” recognised Barrow.
“But he came in to the training ground this morning, we’ve been in constant contact over the last few days, he’s been very involved.
“He picked the team, he did the team talk, everything apart from being on the touchline.
“He was sat just behind us, and we had Peter Atherton running up and down with messages.
“We always have a chat at half-time about the possibility of who we might bring on, what our thoughts are.
“It’s very much a team decision, a group decision, and he was very involved again today.”
Barrow also praised opposite number Tony Mowbray, who has now collected seven points in three matches since succeeding Owen Coyle as Rovers boss, to lift the side out of the bottom three for the first time in months.
“Tony’s come in, and he’s got as response from the players,” added Barrow.
“I’ve always thought - even when Owen was here - that they’ve got a team that will always score.
“I can’t think of many games in which they’ve not scored, and you saw that quality again with Emnes.
“He certainly had a decent game.”