Leam Richardson reacts to Wigan Athletic's victory at Rotherham United
Leam Richardson felt his Wigan Athletic side ‘earned the right to play’ at Rotherham, as goals from Will Keane and Tom Naylor secured a deserved victory.
Latics had to dig in and withstand some concerted pressure in both periods from the home side.
But Keane’s early goal and Naylor’s right at the death gave Latics a fourth away win on the bounce – and sent them up to ninth place in the Championship, with a game in hand.
"It's been a very pleasing day, and all the credit goes to the players,” said the Latics boss.
"We knew the challenges we faced coming to the New York Stadium, to face a Rotherham side with some very good players.
"Their output is always very strong, and you have to match that.
"I thought we started the game terrifically well, on the front foot, and it probably evened itself out before half-time.
"In the second half, I thought we controlled large parts of the game, as as it opened up, we grew into it even more.
"We had to dig deep at times, but that was no surprise to us.
"I spoke in the week about what we were expecting from Rotherham, and it was exactly what we saw.
"When you come to places like this, you know you're going to have to defend in parts of the game, and I thought we did that really well.
"You have to earn the right to play, they have a man for man system , they're very fit, very organised and very diligent.
"We needed enough of our players to win their duels, and I thought they did that.
"I'm told Rotherham hadn't conceded a goal in the first half hour all season, they hadn't conceded a goal from a set-piece all season, and they hadn't lost here all season.
"For us to do all three is obviously very pleasing for us.”
Richardson sprung a surprise before the game by making four changes, which was fully vindicated as Naylor, Nathan Broadhead, Charlie Wyke and Ryan Nyambe all took their chance to impress.
"I keep saying we're a newly-promoted side from League One, and it's still very much the same squad,” Richardson added.
"We know we're going to have to use every single member of the squad, and every single player is valued by me.
"The hardest thing for me as a manager is leaving out players, because I'd genuinely pick them all if I could.
"Sometimes you have to pick a team and bench for a certain game, and that's what we did today."
Latics went ahead in the 12th minute when Wyke’s pull-back found Keane, who smashed home from 12 yards.
Latics were indebted to McClean when Chiedozie Ogbene sent a looping shot over Ben Amos, only for the Ireland man to somehow get back and clear.
Josh Magennis and Darikwa took over from Wyke and Thelo Aasgaard for the final quarter, with Darikwa slotting in at left-back, allowing McClean to push forward.
And it was this tactical tweak that led to the killer second goal with five minutes remaining.
McClean raced clean through before being denied by a stupendous save by Johasson at point-blank range.
But from McClean's corner, Jack Whatmough headed it goalwards and Naylor nodded in from a yard.