Warren Joyce admitted he couldn’t have wished for a better start for loan goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard, who saved a penalty on his Wigan Athletic debut in the 2-0 FA Cup third-round win over Nottingham Forest at the DW Stadium.
Haugaard had only put pen to paper just hours before kick-off, but made an immediate impact by keeping out Forest skipper Eric Lichaj’s 82nd-minute penalty, which denied Forest any late hopes of an unlikely comeback.
Goals from Will Grigg and Yanic Wldschut in either half were enough to deservedly book Wigan’s place in round four, but it would have been a nervy last few minutes had Haugaard not marked his debut in style.
“It’s a great start for him,” acknowledged Joyce.
“He’s come in late, he’s not even trained with the players before the game.
“It was obviously a free hit to throw him in and have a look at him in the FA Cup, with a little bit less pressure than throwing him in to a league game.
“It gives me the chance to have a look at him and see him in those surroundings.
“Obviously you’re not happy about him being in the situation where he has to save a penalty, because we were in control of the game.
“I would have been very disappointed had we let them back in, and it was sloppy play that resulted in the penalty.
“But it was a fantastic save, and good for the lad in front of the home crowd to do that.
“When you don’t have a lot to do and you’re able to maintain that concentration, it makes it even better.”
Latics thoroughly merited only their second win under Joyce in 11 outings, although the boss didn’t feel the display was much better than they’ve produced during their recent run of poor results.
“I don’t think the performance was any different to what it’s been in the last few weeks to be honest,” the Latics chief insisted.
“The display was very similar to the others, it was just that the result was different.
“Even at 2-0 up, giving the penalty away, that could have been 2-1, and it could have been the same, stupid series of events that have happened in a few of the other games.
“That’s what you’re talking to the players about, to stop the same thing as happened against Ipswich happening again.
“Giving away a silly goal, that could have become 2-2...it’s silly little small margins that have been costing us.
“That’s been the story of my time here if you look back at all the games.
“Whether it’s the cup or the league, it’s just nice to win games.
“I was pleased with the performance and I thought we thoroughly deserved to win the game.”
A crowd of just 5,163 - including 1,579 Forest supporters - braved the cold and miserable recent run of results, which Joyce had no issue with.
“I think the fans have been great since I’ve been here,” he added.
“It’s up to them what they do on such a cold, horrible day.
“I’m sure some of my family would have thought there were better things to do today than come here!”
Latics had also confirmed the departure of Craig Davies just before kick-off, the striker having moved to Scunthorpe for the rest of the season, when his contract at the DW was due to expire.
“I’ve no gripe with Craig Davies at all,” said Joyce. “I thought his training was first class.
“It’s difficult, because there’s only a certain amount of forwards you can play.
“But for him as a pro and as a man I thought he was excellent every day.
“Unfortunately he didn’t get many opportunities, but that’s football.
“I wish him well, unless he slaughters me...!”