Cook admits Wigan Athletic comeback was fan-tastic
'We brought too many fans to the game to let them down.'
That was Paul Cook’s assessment of the stirring comeback that ensured Wigan Athletic remain in pole position over Blackburn in the race for promotion.
Leaders Rovers - six points clear but having played FOUR games more - looked like delivering a significant blow to their rivals when they raced into a 2-0 lead inside 17 minutes.
But with an incredible 2,367 travelling contingent cheering them on, the visitors hit back in the last half hour thanks to goals from Will Grigg - who deflected home a Michael Jacobs effort - and Max Power.
“We’re not going to go down with a whimper to anyone,” snarled Cook.
“We brought too many fans to the game to let them down.
“We’re better than what we produced in the first-half - I expect our players to create chances and hurt people, and that was the half-time team talk.
“The message was: ‘Do not let our fans travel home and have Blackburn fans taunting us without fighting’.
“I think second-half we fought, and in my opinion we fully deserved our point.”
On a difficult pitch, with the stakes so high, it was always going to be a difficult hurdle to negotiate.
But Cook was delighted with the way his charges handled the early disappointment to show what they’re made of.
“It was a great game of football between two very committed teams,” the Latics boss acknowledged.
“Both teams had to play to the conditions when you take the pitch into account.
“Blackburn were very direct, it shocked me a bit at how direct they were.
“They caught us out with the first goal, and it felt like a sucker punch because we started the game well.
“The second one was purely disappointment, because then you face an uphill battle, especially when you want to be a passing team.
“It was quite clear that our passing style wouldn’t lead to great chances, so we went a lot more direct - and it’s something we might have to do more often on the run-in.
“When you’ve got a strong group like ours who want to pass and play, sometimes people will go out on their swords.
“You can’t do that in my opinion when the conditions are going against you.
“It’s an outstanding point in the end and great credit to the players.”
Second-placed Shrewsbury would probably have been the happiest, with both teams having dropped points, and Cook is well aware how tight it is with games running out.
“There’s a long way to go and there are plenty of other teams around us,” he assessed.
“Shrewsbury are doing outstandingly well, Rotherham are chomping at everyone, but we’ll just keep counting the games down.”