Paul Cook believes Wigan Athletic’s last-gasp victory at Bradford will have acted like a knee to the groin of promotion rivals Blackburn and Shrewsbury.
Despite dominating for the vast majority of a tight encounter at Valley Parade, Latics were agoninsingly unable to force the goal they needed to kickstart their promotion push.
James Vaughan hit a post in the early stages, while Latics suffered a further blow after the break when Nick Powell limped off with a hamstring strain.
But with just seconds to go, Michael Jacobs took delivery of a delicious lay-off from Will Grigg to find the bottom corner.
Latics are now up into second place, ahead of Shrewsbury on goal difference, and only five points behind Blackburn - with three games in hand.
“What a way to win it, and I thought we were excellent on the night,” enthused Cook.
“On Saturday (against Scunthorpe) I thought we’d maybe dropped off a little bit in terms of work-rate and desire.
“But that was there in abundance tonight.
“I thought it might peter out into a 0-0, despite us looking the most likely to win it.
“But a fantastic piece of skill by Will Grigg and a great finish from Michael Jacobs has won it for us.
“And to see those Wigan fans behind the goal made it for me.
“That goal will really have hurt Shrewsbury and Blackburn tonight...if we’d have only drawn or got beat...there’s so much football to go.
“And if we can show that work-rate and commitment - forget about the quality - if we can keep that desire, we’ll go very close.
“If we win our games in hand, we’ll win this league, and that’s a great feeling.”
With perhaps one eye on Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Southampton, Cook had made three changes to his starting line-up.
New arrival Vaughan - cup-tied for the weekend, having appeared in the competition for Sunderland - was excellent on a rare start, while late substitute Devante Cole showed up well on his Latics debut.
“I thought James Vaughan led the line superbly, slightly different to Will Grigg, who gives you something else,” added the Latics boss.
“And Devante Cole showed us an exceptional 10 minutes at the end, which gives me an extra problem moving forwards.”