Wigan Athletic caretaker boss reacts to Blackpool triumph
Rob Kelly hailed Wigan Athletic's patience and refusal to ‘panic’ after the last-gasp victory over fellow strugglers Blackpool.
Latics ended a hugely eventful week - which saw Leam Richardson relieved of his duties on Thursday - on a high thanks to Curtis Tilt's 89th-minute winner against his former club.
The afternoon had started well when Blackpool were reduced to 10 men inside 17 minutes when skipper Marvin Ekpiteta was red-carded for a last-man foul on Charlie Wyke.
But the Seasiders responded in fine fashion and deservedly led at the break thanks to Gary Madine's rocket shot.
James McClean levelled the scores nine minutes after the restart direct from a right-wing corner.
And it looked as though honours would end even - only for Tilt to pop up to nod home captain Tendayi Darikwa's cross with seconds to go.
"It was one big collective effort," acknowledged caretaker boss Kelly.
"It was difficult, when the opposition had a man sent off very early.
"We had a similar situation ourselves at Birmingham at the start of the season (when Joe Bennett was sent off), and you're able to sit in, and there's less expectation.
"We've not been on a great run, so confidence wasn't massively high, although I don't think we've ever lost track of what direction we're going in.
"We just tried to keep things as calm as we possibly could, made one or two tweaks at half-time, but nothing we wouldn;t have done with Leam still here
"I told the guys at half-time not to panic, we still had 45 or even 50 minutes to get the job done, and just to move the ball around a bit quicker.
"The Championship is a slog, the schedule is so hectic, and I did feel the longer it went, I did feel gaps would open up for us, and we would get chances.
"We needed to try and play with a bit more width and get the ball into the box, and fortunately today that's what happened."
Kelly also insisted there would be no happier man than Richardson at Latics getting back to winning ways after seven games without.
"I went for a coffee with Leam the other morning, and I know him from way back, he was one of my first youth teams as a youngster at Blackburn," he added.
"I regard him as a friend as well as a colleague, and he's just a very good human being.
"By the way, he'll be delighted with the win, because that's just the kind of guy he is.
"It's been a difficult few days for everyone, because he was so central to everything that was going on here - on and off the pitch.
"But the staff and the players have been brilliant, and we're all delighted with the three points."
The win sees Latics leapfrog their opponents into third-bottom spot, but now within three points of mid-table going into the World Cup break.
They return to action at Millwall on December 10.