Cook hails hard work as cup hangover fails to materialise

Michael Jacobs celebrates with James Vaughan and Nathan Byrne
Michael Jacobs celebrates with James Vaughan and Nathan Byrne
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Paul Cook hailed the work ethic of his players as they sealed three points at Walsall courtesy of a 10-minute goal rush towards the end of the first half.

Latics were entitled to still have Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Southampton on their minds, and it looked as if it would be a tricky evening for Cook's men.

But three goals inside 10 minutes from Jacobs, Fulton and Dunkley sent Latics into the break in cruise control - a trait which pleased their manager.

He said: "I'm delighed with the result, especially after the FA Cup game on Sunday. Everyone was so captivated by that, so it's pleasing to come here and put in such a strong performance.

"I think we've got that goal-scoring trait in us - we've done it numerous times this year, including at Wimbledon - but without that work ethic the individual quality we have counts for nothing.

"We had to earn the win tonight. I thought our level of professionalism and work ethic was good. They never stepped back and kept asking questions of us - even three or four minutes into stoppage time."

The result leaves Latics just two points behind league leaders Blackburn with two games in hand, a position which Cook admitted he was pleased with.

He said: "I wouldn't swap our position, we've basically always had our own fate in our hands. The FA Cup run has meant that teams like Blackburn have stolen a march on us in terms of games played, but if we win our games in hand we're in a very strong position."

The game was Dean Keates' first in charge as manager, and his assistant Ian Sharps felt that Latics' ability to score three goals in quick succession was telling.

He said: "Wigan were probably just that bit more clinical in both boxes tonight. They've beaten Man City so they're not a bad team, and that's the standard they play at."