Paul Cook reiterated his stance that Wigan Athletic do not have a disciplinary problem, despite having ‘no complaints whatsoever’ about Lee Evans’ red card in the 2-1 victory at Scunthorpe.
Evans was given his marching orders just before the hour mark at Glanford for putting his head in the face of Scunthorpe’s Funso Ojo.
With Latics leading through Dan Burn’s goal just before, it put the pressure on the visitors, who then doubled their advantage through Nick Powell in the final quarter.
Ojo pulled one back in the very last minute, but Latics held on for a deserved three points.
All of which left Cook a relieved man, and without complaint for referee Robert Lewis’ crucial call.
“Lee knows he’s done wrong,” revealed Cook, who saw his side close the gap on League One leaders Shrewsbury to just two points.
“I’ll always stand by my players, because we’ve all made mistakes at some point - both in football and in life.
“Lee’s a great lad and has been a magnificent player for us so far.
“And he’ll learn from this - it’s all part of his learning curve.
“He knows he’s let us down, and let his team-mates down.
“But he’s not the first and he won’t be the last player to ever do that.
“As long as he learns from it we’ll be all right.”
Evans later issued a public apology on social media.
“I want to apologise to everyone today for my actions,” he tweeted.
“I let down my team-mates, manager and most of all the fans.
“To say it was out of character would be an understatement.
“I have never reacted like that before, and I will make sure it never happens again.
“Huge credit to the boys on digging in deep and getting the three points.”
It was the fourth red card Latics have picked up this term, after Callum Elder (MK Dons), Chey Dunkley (Portsmouth) and Ryan Colclough (Shrewsbury).
Cook, however, maintained his stance that there is no discipline problem within the dressing room that needs addressing.
“It’s just flashpoints,” the Latics boss insisted.
“We do have experienced players, but other than Perks, Alex Bruce, Noel Hunt, Gary Roberts, we are a very young team.
“Young lads will make mistakes - they always do.
“All we can do is back our players immensely.
“We’re disappointed in Lee, we apologise to the referee for what he’s done, and we don’t want to encourage that.
“But I’m sure Lee will learn from that.”
Reflecting on the game, Cook believes his men were very good value for the three points - their sixth win in the last seven matches.
“Scunthorpe are a very strong side - there won’t be many teams this season who come here and win,” he reasoned.
“We were already ahead of them in the league, this obviously gives us some extra space on them.
“But it’s only 12 games in, there’s still such a long way to go.
“We’ll not get too excited too quickly, same as we don’t get too down too quickly.
“You’re only ever a minute or two away from a disaster - we’ve all been there.
“But we’ve got a good group of players, who work very hard for each other.
“We’re confident we can open up any team in this division, such is the calibre of player we’ve got.
“We felt at half-time we should have been in the lead.
“We weren’t but, on reflection, I do feel we deserved to win the game on the balance of play.”