Late collapse was coming - Caldwell

Gary Caldwell
Gary Caldwell

Gary Caldwell felt Wigan Athletic got nothing more than they deserved on opening-day at Bristol City after an abject second-half display.

Latics had led at the halfway mark at Ashton Gate after Alex Gilbey marked his debut with a wonderful goal after great work from Yanic Wildschut.

But the second half was one-way traffic, and the home side eventually made their dominance pay with two goals inside the last 10 minutes.

And rather than lick his wounds, Caldwell delivered a brutally honest assessment of his side’s role in their own downfall.

“It was obviously very disappointing to concede two late goals,” Caldwell told the Evening Post.

“But I think the second-half performance was an even bigger disappointment.

“Coming away from home it’s never going to be easy, but I thought we played well in the first half.

“I thought we controlled the game, albeit they had the majority of the possession.

“We looked a real threat when we did go forward, and we scored a fantastic goal that gave us a great platform to get into the game.

“But in the second half we just didn’t come out, we didn’t pass the ball, and we didn’t have any kind of control over the game.

“And that meant it was only a matter of time before the goals came.

“They were always going to come out in the second half and come after us.

“We had to play in the right areas, and we had to pass the ball and control the game.

“That was the frustrating thing, because we just didn’t do that.

“We looked tentative and, as the game went on, they got all the second balls, we got brushed off the ball and we looked a bit soft in the latter stages, which was really disappointing.”

Like everyone else in the stadium, Caldwell was marvelling at Gilbey’s outstanding opening goal, that put the icing on the cake of a fine debut following his summer switch from Colchester.

“He was fantastic, and we know he’s got that quality,” acknowledged the Wigan boss.

“We saw it last year when he was at Colchester, and his goal was real quality - not just the finish but the whole build-up.

“It was something we’d worked on, with Yanic getting in down the sides, and it worked perfectly.

“I felt we could have done more of that, but we didn’t look after the ball well enough.

“We were too hurried in our passing game, we gave it away too cheaply.”

Caldwell was also chuffed with the performance of 18-year-old Luke Burke, who didn’t put a foot wrong during his 77-minute debut until his substitution - with the score still at 1-0.

“Luke was excellent again, there’s nothing that fazes him,” Caldwell enthused.

“He just goes out there and does it, and he only came off at the end because of the knock he took to the head.

“We thought he looked a bit groggy in the second half, but other than that he would have played the full game because he was excellent in everything he did.

“He can only build on this and get even better.”

Goalkeeper Adam Bogdan didn’t deserve to be on the losing side, having fully justified his manager’s decision to select him ahead of last year’s undisputed No.1, Jussi Jaaskelainen.

“It was a difficult decision,” recognised Caldwell.

“Jussi is a fantastic goalkeeper, an excellent pro, and his standards in training and in games are incredible.

“I just thought Adam deserved the chance, and I thought he showed how good a goalkeeper he is.

“He made some fantastic saves in that second half, and kept us in the game until the end.”