Paul Cook hailed man-of-the -match David Marshall after Latics’ goalless draw with Barnsley on Saturday.
It was another tough afternoon at the DW but it was one when Cook’s men ended their dismal losing streak. Were it not for Marshall, though, that wouldn’t have been the case.
The goalkeeper has endured a rocky start to his Latics career with the 3-1 defeat at QPR a week earlier seeing him having a hand in all three Rangers goals.
Many expected to see Jamie Jones return to the starting XI against fellow strugglers Barnsley but Cook stuck to his guns and was rewarded with a fine display from Marshall who kept his place.
The Scot pulled off a strong of impressive saves with two inside a minute in the second half when he first tipped Mike-Steven Bahre’s thunderbolt behind before getting in the way of Luke Thomas’ volley from the resulting corner.
“He was outstanding,” said Cook. “Marshall is a good keeper, he’s an international footballer so we are debating something we already know. It was his best game by far.
“The Barnsley keeper made one save at the end but I don’t think he’s been worked a great deal more than that. I thought Barnsley were full value for their point today.
“Certainly defensively I thought we were excellent today with Marshall and (Chey) Dunkley, lads that didn’t look the best defenders last week. Going forward we must improve and carry more of a threat we know that but Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
While Marshall kept his place, Cook rang the changes elsewhere with four of the 10 outfield players from the QPR defeat making way – only Danny Fox was left out through injury.
While a draw isn’t exactly the result Latics fans wanted, it stopped the rot and Cook hopes it can kickstart their race this season.
“At times Barnsley played really well in the game, they carry a real good threat going forward,’ said Cook.
“They’ve got pace and energy in the team in good areas and that’s credit to Barnsley.
“For us, it’s a long race and a 0-0 draw today was a start and it allows us to move forward.
“I thought defensively we were very good. If you watched us last week at QPR you wouldn’t have said that so you can see there’s been some improvement from the training ground this week.”
We know we’ve got to be better going forward, we accept that.”