Point just reward for Wigan Athletic 'belief', insists Leam Richardson
"Absolutely superb, it was an absolute masterstroke substitution..."
That was Leam Richardson's tongue-in-cheek assessment of Ollie Crankshaw's stoppage-time leveller for Wigan Athletic at Fleetwood - four minutes after taking to the field.
Latics had dug in and given as good as they'd got against a Fleetwood side pushing for promotion to the Championship.
But for long periods it looked as though Danny Andrew's 35-yard strike just before the half-hour mark would settle a game desperately short on excitement and enterprise.
That was until Curtis Tilt got his head to Tom Pearce's corner and, after Town goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler parried out Will Keane's volley, Crankshaw was on hand to nod home from six yards.
It was the perfect response to the midweek mauling against Rochdale, and moves Latics to within three points of safety.
"I thought the energy and the endeavour, certainly in the second half, was fantastic to see," acknowledged Richardson.
"We were playing on the front foot because of the wind, and I just wanted us to play with that bit of belief.
"Possibly in the first half, on the back of midweek, we were perhaps playing a bit reserved on the back foot.
"After the break I thought we played with a lot more freedom, with more determination to get into the final third, to make things happen.
"And we thoroughly deserved our point from the game.
"A few things got addressed at half-time, and I thought we were much better in the second half, I really enjoyed watching us."
On the 86th-minute switch that saw Crankshaw take over from Kyle Joseph after another tireless shift, a large smile took over Richardson's face.
"Absolutely superb, it was an absolute masterstroke substitution from the manager!" he beamed.
"No, seriously, it was great to see him go on and score a goal we deserved as a team.
"To keep going, to get the late goal, with the energy levels as they were, was pleasing."
The Latics acting manager also hailed the calming presence at the back of Rotherham loan man Tilt, who capped another fine display with an assist for the equaliser.
"He shows every single time he takes the field what he's all about," added Richardson.
"You talk about setting a standard for the cause, he certainly does that.
"For a centre-back to set a tempo for the whole team to take up the pitch, it's a great compliment to him.
"Fingers crossed he can keep doing that for a while yet."
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