GARY Caldwell heaped praise on Jordan Flores after the 19-year-old marked his first league start with a match-winning display against Fleetwood.
Flores opened the scoring for Latics six minutes before half-time with a deadly finish, before Michael Jacobs doubled the lead within a minute of the restart.
Town pulled one back on the hour mark through Tyler Hornby-Forbes but Latics - inspired by their newest star - were good value for the points.
“Jordan’s been unlucky not to get more chances to be honest,” recognised Caldwell.
“He’s had to wait for his chance, but he was excellent again today and scored a fantastic goal to mark his home league debut.
“I’m so happy for him.”
Flores followed in the footsteps of close pal Tim Chow, who marked his own first league start against Brighton last term in identical fashion - scoring the opening goal in a 2-1 victory.
“It’s great for any club to field academy players,” Caldwell acknowledged.
“It’s a real shot in the arm for the football club.
“It’s something we probably started a couple of years ago, putting more of an emphasis on academy players.
“We need to keep working at that, and keep bringing more and more players through the system into the first team, ready to play the way we want to play.
“It’s something I feel really passionate about, and something I think the club really needs to do to secure its future.
“To have Tim, Jordan and Jenno (Ryan Jennings) as players the younger lads can look up to and aspire to can only be good for the club.
“And you can see by the way they perform that they’re ready to contribute to the team.
“I wouldn’t put them in the team unless I thought they were ready - I’m not doing it just because they’re local lads.
“Tim scored on his debut, Jordan’s scored on his, and they’re contributing to the team.
“They need to keep working hard to stay in the team - and that’s the challenge from now on.”
Despite having seen his side dominate the majority of an entertaining encounter, Caldwell was happy to hear the final whistle with Fleetwood pressing for an equaliser at the end.
“No team in this league is ever dead - as we proved at Chesterfield and Port Vale did to us last week,” the Latics chief remarked.
“This league has very honest teams who are never beaten.
“When you get the opportunity, you have to kill off games.
“That’s the disappointment from today, but overall I’m delighted with another win.
“There was a feeling of relief at the end, but I don’t think we can take away from the first hour, when I thought we were excellent.
“We passed the ball very well, gave them lots of problems in midfield with our shape and controlled the game.
“We should have been further in front, and that’s a lesson we have to learn.
“At 2-0 the game is never over, and we can’t be letting teams back into the game like we did.
“We want to try and focus on that first hour and use that to take forward.
“In the last half hour we put ourselves under pressure, but we showed our character again.
“We were willing to dig in, put our tin hats on and fight for our three points.”
Latics were almost hit by a cruel sucker punch right at the death when David Ball - who spent time on trial with Latics over the summer before returning to Fleetwood - hit the post with a close-range effort.
“Bally was very unfortunate not to get something here,” Caldwell revealed.
“The timing, the finances, we were looking at other things, and it just didn’t get done.
“While he was here he did fantastic, and when he came on you knew he was going to be a threat.
“He had a point to prove, he wanted to get something here, and thankfully we managed to see the game out.
“We want to build on this now and put another run together.
“We’ve already managed to put together two wins in a row, and we need to put more of a run together.
“We need to remain unbeaten for a period of time, which is going to push us up the league.
“We’ll recover from this, work hard again to build on this performance and take it into next week.”