Five games to go and 'we're still here fighting' - Wigan Athletic hero
Callum Lang was channeling his inner Kevin Keegan after breathing further life into Wigan Athletic’s survival bid.
Restored to the starting line-up after missing the win at Doncaster due to concussion protocol, Lang popped up with the second-half winner in the 2-1 victory over Sunderland.
And evoking memories of then-Newcastle manager Keegan’s infamous ‘We’re still here fighting...I would love it if we beat them’ title message to Manchester United counterpart Sir Alex
Ferguson a quarter of a century ago, Lang says Latics have the character and belief to pull off the greatest of Great Escapes.
“We’ve got a good dressing room and we’re going to fight until the end,” he said.
“The hard work continues on the training pitch and hopefully we can keep going. We’re still here fighting!”
Latics are now a point clear of the drop zone with only five matches remaining.
And the manner of the victory over high-flying Sunderland – recovering after falling behind on the half-hour mark – will have sent shockwaves out to their relegation rivals.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” acknowledged Lang.
“But we kept on working in the first half and went in at 1-1, and that first goal was massive for us.
“Second half, we kept that same work rate, stayed with it and luckily got the goal.
“From then on, we looked solid. I don’t think we looked like conceding from when we scored so it was a big defensive performance as well.
“We just need to keep on putting the two together and we can take a lot of confidence from that and keep picking points up.”
Boss Leam Richardson, meanwhile, is refusing to get carried away after moving out of the relegation places.
Despite having their heads above water with five games to go, Richardson is keen to keep his feet on the ground.
“Obviously you don’t want to do anything to dampen the elation of a fantastic result over a very good team,” he said.
“But it’s my job to let the lads know we haven’t achieved anything yet in our quest to achieve what we set out to do at the start of the season.
“We knew it was going to be a tough task against a Sunderland team who are close to achieving their own targets at the other end of the table.
“We knew we had to meet them head on in certain areas, and try to exploit some other areas with the huge assets we have here.
“If I’m going to be critical, could we have been even better in certain areas?
“But I don’t want to take anything away from any of the lads.
“We worked so hard across the board and, in my opinion, we more than deserved the win.”
Sunderland’s second defeat in the space of four days was another hammer blow to their hopes of automatic promotion.
And if anything the winning margin could and should have been even greater, with Will Keane squandering a couple of golden opportunities to secure the points before the end.
“We like to make a game of it don’t we...we like to keep it interesting to the end!” reflected Richardson.
“People are paying good money to watch the games at home and we like to keep them entertained!
“I’m just asking these lads to hit certain numbers in certain areas, and when we do that we look a good side.
“Will, Callum, Joe (Dodoo), Viv (Solomon-Otabor) were getting into some great areas.
“If they continue to do that, I’m sure we’ll get our rewards as a side over the course of the season.”
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