GARY Caldwell doesn’t believe Wigan Athletic’s promotion six-pointer at Walsall next Saturday contributed to their below-par display against Oldham.
Latics dropped two points against their struggling north-west neighbours at the DW Stadium, with a below-par display across the board.
Although they extended their unbeaten run to 10 matches, they were perhaps fortunate to escape with a point as the visitors created the better chances only for Jussi Jaaskelainen to pull off a string of important saves.
Latics blew the chance to move up to second in the League One table, instead slipping a place to fourth, ahead of Saturday’s trip to the third-placed Saddlers.
But Caldwell rejected the notion his players had taken their collective eyes off the ball and under-estimated Oldham.
“I hope not, because we certainly built up this game as a big one for us,” Caldwell told the Evening Post.
“If you want to win a league, then every single game is a big game.
“You can’t take weekends off and expect to come back, because you’ll run out of games in the end.
“This was a big game and all the players were fully aware of that.”
Latics couldn’t make the most of a brand new playing surface that Caldwell had hinted would take a few games to bed in. However, the Latics chief again refused to hold that up as an excuse.
“The pitch was excellent, and played very well,” he acknowledged.
“As I’ve said before, we’re very thankful that the club put that down for us.
“The club have done everything to help the players, and they have to take responsibility for not responding with a performance.”
Only goalkeeper Jaaskelainen stoof between Latics and defeat, and Caldwell hailed the impact the big Finn has made since his arrival last summer.
“He’s been sensational,” Caldwell added. “I can’t speak highly enough of him since he’s come in.
“That’s three clean sheets in a row again for him, and the way he approaches games is an example to everyone.
“If you want to be the best at what you do, you have to be focused and ready every single day. He is an example of that.”