Wigan Athletic boss hails 'mentality' of his side after Blackburn draw

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Shaun Maloney hailed the 'mentality' of his Wigan Athletic side after kicking off his reign with a goalless draw at Blackburn.

Latics went some way to stopping the rot in their first game since Maloney succeeded Kolo Toure in the hotseat.

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REPORT: Blackburn Rovers 0 Wigan Athletic 0

All three recent signings - Martin Kelly, Omar Rekik and Danel Sinani - showed up well on debut as Latics took the game to their play-off chasing opponents.

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Shaun Maloney watched his Latics side pick up a credible draw at Blackburn in the first match of his tenureShaun Maloney watched his Latics side pick up a credible draw at Blackburn in the first match of his tenure
Shaun Maloney watched his Latics side pick up a credible draw at Blackburn in the first match of his tenure

They even had the ball in the net in the second half, although Kelly's effort from a James McClean's corner was chalked off for a foul on the goalkeeper by Callum Lang.

"I'm very happy with the mentality of the group," said Maloney.

"In the second half we had to defend, Blackburn pushed a lot of players forward, but I thought we stood up to it.

"I think we can definitely play a bit more, I was pleased with what we did in the first half.

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"I liked the bravery in possession, and remember I'm asking them to do things they haven't done for a while really.

"If anything, I think we could have been even more aggressive, but I'm thinking that will come.

"We've obviously got lots of work to do, but the mentality overall was amazing, the desire not to get beat.

"It's been a big part of the last seven or eight days since we came in, making ourselves a lot harder to beat.

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"I asked for the supporters as well to be there for us, and they turned up big time - a big shout out to them."

Maloney acknowledged Latics had a lucky escape in stoppage-time, when Jack Whatmough collided with Harry Pickering.

"I think we might have got fortunate there," added Maloney. "Jack stumbled into the player, and we maybe got fortunate...maybe the Gods were smiling on us there given the work the players put in."

Rovers started well with Ben Brereton-Diaz racing clean through the left channel, with Latics indebted to Ben Amos for making a superb stop.

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At the other end, Sinani tried his luck from 25 yards, with a shot that was travelling but straight at the goalkeeper.

Latics continued to look dangerous, though, with Lang sending a snapshot just over the top corner, before seeing another effort from distance touched behind for a corner.

Amos made another good save to deny Sorba Thomas, and Latics started the second period strongly, with Rekik winning two challenges before firing wide of the post.

Disappointingly, that was Rekik's last involvement, with the on-loan Arsenal man limping off to be replaced by Tom Pearce.

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Latics then had a 'goal' chalked off when McClean - who became a dad for the fourth time hours before kick-off - sent over a corner that found Kelly at the back post.

However, the referee whistled against Lang for a foul on the goalkeeper.

Kelly produced a couple of pieces of fine defending under pressure in his own box as Rovers pushed.

Thelo Aasgaard took over from Sinani to add fresh legs, before Kelly limped off after an innocuous looking challenge.

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Also off went Will Keane, with Steven Caulker and Charlie Wyke on for the last 15 minutes.

There was almost an unwanted sting in the tale, when Pickering and Whatmough collided, only for the referee to wave play on.

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