Caldwell hails Latics character

Gary Caldwell
Gary Caldwell

Gary Caldwell admitted the dogfight at the top of League One is bringing out the best in his Wigan Athletic side.

Latics completed a perfect Easter programme thanks to a 1-0 win against 10-man Rochdale, Conor McAleny’s goal midway through the second period proving decisive.

It was a victory as far removed from the 4-1 Good Friday romp as could be, with Caldwell’s men really having to dig deep to see off their 10-man opponents.

However, the Wigan boss couldn’t contain his delight - and relief - after the game, with his side cranking up the pressure on long-time leaders Burton.

“I don’t worry at all about this group of players,” the Latics chief said.

“They’ve showed time and time again their character and their determination to win football matches, and take this club back up the leagues.

“It could have been difficult against 10 men - sometimes a sending-off can galvanise a team.

“It certainly was the case with Rochdale, and I thought they were magnificent in that second half.

“We had to show a lot of patience, a lot of quality and, in the end, a lot of grit to see the game out.

“It won’t have pictures when the scores come in tonight.

“It will just say ‘1-0’, and that’s the most important thing at this stage.”

The visitors were reduced to 10 men just after the half-hour mark when striker Ian Henderson reacted angrily to being taken out by Jason Pearce’s lunge.

Dale boss Keith Hill reckoned the decision was harsh on his side, accusing referee Mark Brown of ‘selective memory or selective sight’.

“It’s hard enough playing against this Wigan side,” Hill mused.

“But when you’re down to 10 men, unfairly as well, then it’s probably given them more of an opportunity to win the game.

“The referee says he only saw Ian Henderson’s reaction - he didn’t see the blatant red-card offence from Jason Pearce.

“I don’t know - is it selective memory or selective sight?”

Caldwell, however, reckoned the official had got it spot on.

“Pearcey has tried to win the ball, and clearly fouled him,” the Latics chief added.

“It’s a yellow card in anyone’s book - to say otherwise is wrong.

“I’d have been very disappointed if any of my players had reacted the way their player reacted.

“You can’t do that in football, and everyone knows that.

“I thought the referee got it spot on.”