Wigan Athletic manager Paul Cook admitted the 0-0 draw at Southport was ‘disappointing’ - but insisted his men remain on track to be ready for the big League One kick-off in two-and-a-half weeks’ time.
Latics were held to a goalless draw by their non-league opponents, in a dour game bereft of virtually any attacking quality from either side.
Neither goalkeeper was really called on to make a save worthy of the name, and Cook acknowledged it was a step back following the encouraging 1-1 draw against Liverpool last Friday night.
“It was a disappointing game to be fair, for such a good travelling crowd from Wigan,” Cook recognised.
“The pitch was difficult, very long, very dry, which made it hard to pass and move the ball.
“But we just became more intent on retaining possession rather than penetration.
“There’s so much more work to do for us, and we’ll keep working hard on the training ground.
“The lads have been terrific, they really have.
“They’re doing their best to pick it up, and it tough when teams get behind the ball like that.
“It’s a lot more difficult than people will think.
“I’ve been involved in plenty of situations where teams have struggled to break other teams down, when one team gets behind the ball.
“It’s important we keep working hard now, and everything is geared towards MK Dons a fortnight on Saturday.”
While disappointed with his side, Cook says he is not concerned in the slightest with only two friendlies to go now before the start of the season.
“I came here with Chesterfield a few years ago and got beat 3-1...but we went on to win the league,” he added.
“So I said to the lads at the end, we’ll take that an an omen, it’s an improvement!
“Look, I’m not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.
“But it is a lot easy to sit in the stands and watch a game and be critical than it is for the players out there.
“We’re disappointed, but it’s nothing to be too concerned about.”