We owed the Wigan Athletic fans that - Cook
Paul Cook admitted the late, late 1-0 win over Oxford was just reward for sticking when others may have twisted - something he felt he '˜owed to the Wigan Athletic fans'.
Latics came up against a brick wall for much of a frustrating night against a side they hit for seven just before Christmas.
Michael Jacobs hit the bar, James Vaughan had an effort cleared off the line and Max Power forced a wonderful save from the visiting goalkeeper in a one-side first half.
But with Oxford looking as though they’d ridden the storm, Cook threw on substitutes Will Grigg, Gavin Massey and Devante Cole for the final push.
And as news filtered through of promotion rivals Shrewsbury falling behind at home to Charlton, Cole broke the Oxford offside trap to lay the winning goal on a plate for Grigg with three minutes to go.
“Every now and again I will throw caution to the wind, and I thought we owed it to the fans to do that,” Cook told the Wigan Post.
“Tonight we felt the risk and the reward was good.
“At that point we were aware Shrewsbury were losing, which also helps your thinking.
“We went with two strikers in the second half, and it is a dangerous game, because you sacrifice the middle of the pitch.
“The game becomes a bit end to end, and we could have ended up losing 1-0.
“If that had happened, it would have been ‘C’est la vie’, let’s move on to Fleetwood this weekend and go again.
“But I really feel we deserved our reward for all the hard work we put in.”
The win takes Latics up to the 90-point mark - three more than secured them the League One title two seasons ago - with four games still to go.
It means they can clinch an immediate return to the Championship at Fleetwood this weekend, if they win and Shrewsbury fail to beat Bury at home.
“It’s been such a roller-coaster ride, and to get to 90 points and not be up already is scary,” acknowledged Cook.
“It’s an unbelievable amount of points to still not be there.
“I know Shrewsbury will be feeling so down and disappointed tonight, because they’ve had such an outstanding season.
“But they’ll pick themselves up and they’ll go again, because there’s plenty of work still still to be done.
“It was the biggest game of our season tonight.
“It was great to keep a clean sheet, and great to win right at the end.
“I thought Oxford came to spoil it for us, of course they did, and to time-waste.
“Sometimes you get what you deserve in football, and I think maybe that’s what Oxford deserved.
“For us, it was a case of being patient, and thankfully we got there in the end.”