Wigan Athletic boss reacts to late winner over Peterborough United
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But after the break it was a different story, with David Ajiboye's cross being drilled home by Kwame Poku nine minutes after the restart.
And Ajiboye came close to putting Posh ahead when he sent a left-foot strike whistling inches past the target.
Latics managed to stem the flow and come on strong in the final quarter, resulting in substitute Callum McManaman firing home from the edge of the area to secure a fifth win in their last six matches.
"It was a brilliant win against a really good team," enthused Maloney.
"When I analysed Peterborough, I watched one of their games, and it was probably the most impressive performance I'd seen so far this season.
"And we've played some really good teams...Portsmouth, Oxford, to name two.
"I really enjoyed the first half, we tried to limit their space, and when they had the ball, I really liked what we did.
"In the second half, they came out really aggressive, and when they equalised, all the momentum was with them.
"I felt like there was a 15-20 minute period when it could have gone either way.
"Then we have that bit of magic from Cal at the end, and then we have to defend with everything we had.
"Sometimes the games you win like that, they give you more joy.
"I have to say again, I thought it was a brilliant game, and a huge win against a team I genuinely feel will come very close to the top two at the end of the season."
Latics were off to the perfect start, with Jones creating the opening from the left, and Godo stealing a march on the defence.
A lovely ball through the centre of the field then found Lang, who side-footed just wide of the right-hand upright.
At the other end, Latics were indebted to a great diving save from Sam Tickle to deny Harrison Burrows from 25 yards.
But Latics ended the half as strongly as they'd started it, and Jones unleashed a stunning strike that beat the goalkeeper, only to bounce back off the crossbar.
Credit Peterborough, they took stock at half-time, and really gained control of the game.
Ajiboye looked a likely scorer when the fall fell at his feet 20 yards out, only for Charlie Hughes to literally throw himself into the path of the shot and make a fine block.
Another good block from Hughes then denied Ephron Mason-Clark, before Ajiboye’s cross from the right saw Poku smash the ball home at the far post.
Tom Pearce and Chris Sze took over from Jones and Stephen Humphrys, with Josh Stones and McManaman then relieving Lang and Godo.
Still Posh looked the more likely scorers, though, with Ajiboye firing inches wide of the target.
The substitutions were making an impact, however, and it was McManaman who restored the Latics lead with eight minutes to go.
Back came Posh, with Joel Randall's beating Tickle, only for Pearce to hack the ball off the line.