Wigan Athletic boss reacts to late victory at Oxford United

Leam Richardson once again hailed the character of his Wigan Athletic side - and insisted their late victory at Oxford was no fluke.

Max Power
Max Power

Latics once again left it late before securing the three points at the Kassam Stadium, which means they'll spend Christmas Day second in League One - two points behind leaders Rotherham with a game in hand.

After leading 2-0 thanks to goals from Will Keane and Max Power, Oxford had restored parity by the hour mark.

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And Karl Robinson's men looked the more likely side to push for a winner in the final quarter.

But Latics remained a threat on the counter and, after Gavin Massey and Callum Lang had passed up chances to win it, James McClean rifled an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner with four minutes to go.

"The lads take full credit for everything they get," acknowledged Richardson. "They work tirelessly hard through the week and in games, and it's no fluke.

"I actually thought we started the game five yards off the pace, and it took us five minutes to get going.

"But once we did, we got into our stride, and we know this group keeps going right to the end.

"We're very much aware of how strongly we finish, and I'm sure other sides are as well.

"In the middle part of the pitch they were probably better than us today. But in both boxes, I thought we were better than them.

"We missed a two great chances at the end before we got the winner, but in big moments of the game, you hope your big players will step up.

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"James did that, and he's that kind of player."

As the game ticked into the final quarter, with Oxford enjoying their best spell, a point would probably have represented a good outcome for Latics.

But Richardson's decision to send on striker Stephen Humprys for left-back Joe Bennett - which meant McClean dropping into left-back - and Gwion Edwards for Massey showed his attacking intent.

"You can always judge by the subs can't you what a team or a manager is thinking," the Latics boss added. "Both Stephen (Humphrys) and Gwion (Edwards) carry a goal threat, and football is about scoring more goals than the opposition.

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"Certainly at the time, when it's gone to 2-2, and they're on top, they've got their tails up.

"We were probably trading blows like heavyweight boxers, but I thought we defended as a group absolutely resolutely.

"And when you carry the kind of attacking threat we do, you've always got a chance of winning it."