Cook: I understand the fans’ concerns

Nick Powell in action against Crawley
Nick Powell in action against Crawley
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Paul Cook admitted the FA Cup first-round victory over Crawley Town showed another vital facet of Wigan Athletic side.

After sweeping beside most of the their League One opponents this term, Latics had to dig deep to see off spirited Crawley from League Two.

Cook’s men even had to come from behind, with Ivan Toney levelling Jordan Roberts’ early goal, before a wonderful strike from Lee Evans won it with 19 minutes to go.

It didn’t make for particularly comfortable viewing for the home supporters, but Cook believes his side passed another important test of their credentials.

“I noticed some of our fans behind me were getting a little bit anxious, and I understand that,” acknowledged Cook.

“I want us to put more ball in to the box, I want us to shoot more - I agree.

“But sometimes when you’re setting up a team to play a certain way, it’s our job to break them down.

“There was a spell of about 15 minutes in that second half when we went a little bit flat, and we didn’t look like scoring.

“But as a manager, that’s the best time your players can get.

“You don’t want to make subs - I actually want to leave those lads out on the field.

“It’s easy to say: ‘Make subs’, but those lads are in a learning period.

“And great credit to our lads for finding a way to score, because we were thinking of subs at the time.”

Latics deserved to take their place in the second-round draw, but few in attendance will remember this one fondly.

“It wasn’t a classic in any way, shape or form - that’s something we can all agree on,” smiled Cook.

“For the last few games in general we haven’t really been playing as well or as fluently as we did at the start of the season.

“As a manager, it’s always difficult when you’re playing a team from a lower division, when you’re expected to win the game.

“Crawley scored a great first goal, which always gives you that little extra bit of energy.

“Great credit to Crawley, though. It’s all very well saying ‘we didn’t play well’, but sometimes you’re not allowed to.

“Yes we weren’t at our best, but it’s always nice to get into the next round.

“Great credit to our lads for finding a way to win the game.

“We’re pleased to be through to the second round, and if we came get through to the third round, who knows.

“If that happens, nobody remembers the first round, or how bad the game was.”

While keeping his feet on the ground, Cook admits the draw for the next round will crank up the excitement levels a notch.

When asked if the FA Cup featured highly on his list of priorities, he replied: “Why not - we’re through to the next round!

“If we’d have got knocked out, I’d have said we weren’t taking it too seriously!

“You just look at this club, and it’s only five seasons ago since we lifted the FA Cup at Wembley.

“It’s obviously not the same club now, but we do have that same ambition.

“As far as we’re concerned, we just want to get into the hat for round two, then round three, and see where it takes us.”