GARY Caldwell admitted the 1-0 home defeat to Burton Albion was ‘a frustrating night for all of us’ at Wigan Athletic.
Latics suffered their first home defeat in League One this term, surrendering an 11-match unbeaten league record at the same time.
After looking the more likelier scorers heading into the final quarter, they were undone by a classic counter-attack which saw Abdenasser El Khayati become the first visiting player to score for six matches.
“It hurts,” Caldwell acknowledged. “It doesn’t matter how long you’ve not lost for, it hurts.
“And I would hope all of the players are hurting as well.
“It was a frustrating night for all of us.
“It’s only one game, though, and there’s a long way to go in this league.
“It’s a lesson to us, that we still have a long way to go to get where we want to be as a football team.”
After the visitors shaded a relatively dull first half, Latics took control after the break and pinned Burton back for long periods - before the late drama.
“I couldn’t see them scoring, because they hadn’t really created any opportunities,” admitted the Latics boss.
“At that stage I’d have been disappointed to have only drawn the game 0-0 if I’m being honest.
“To end up losing it is very, very disappointing.
“They came with a game-plan to sit in and make it difficult for us.
“We struggled on the ball. We’ve not been great on the ball in the last few games, and it’s something we’ve been trying to work on.
“Tonight again we didn’t have the same speed to our passing, the same options when we had the ball, and it took us too many passes to get where we wanted to go.
“That allowed them to get numbers behind the ball and do what they came here to do - frustrate us and hit us on the counter.
“It was always going to come from a counter-attack. It’s on the edge of their box and you know you’re vulnerable.”
Caldwell was also disappointed at the ease in which Burton were able to break forward without being stopped in their tracks - by fair means or foul.
“If they get the ball they come down at all costs - you kill the attack there and then,” he said.
“It’s not the first time that’s happened to us, and that’s the disappointing thing.
“We have to learn very quickly that teams are going to come here and play on the counter-attack - and we have to stop them at source.”
Wigan knew it wasn’t to be their night when, with five minutes remaining, a corner broke to Max Power in front of goal and he looked a certain scorer.
However, after the midfielder miscued his effort, the ball rolled to Reece James, who could only fire against the outside of the post from eight yards.
“That summed the night up, to be honest,” added Caldwell.
“Max’s chance was even better than Reece’s - it’s a free shot from 12 yards and he’s kind of fluffed it.
“Then we get the second opportunity, and Reece hits the post.
“You get some nights like that in football.”