GARY Caldwell last night bemoaned ‘key moments’ going against Wigan Athletic as a 2-0 defeat at Millwall edged them closer to relegation to League One.
Latics passed up three gilt-edged opportunities to take the lead in a must-win clash in the Lions’ Den before succumbing to two late goals.
I’ve told the lads, what they’ve given me, I can work with that. I can work with players who are brave and show a bit of character, and I thought we showed thatGary Caldwell
And they ended the game with nine men following the sendings-off of Martyn Waghorn and Jason Pearce.
Waghorn received his marching orders only nine minutes after appearing off the bench for lashing out at Dan Harding.
Pearce was dismissed for a crunching challenge on Aiden O’Brien, with Millwall’s Ed Upson also seeing red in the resulting melee.
“I’m bitterly disappointed,” acknowledged Caldwell, whose side remain seven points adrift of safety but with only three matches remaining.
“I thought we played well in the game, but key moments never went our way.
“Overall I thought the boys gave me everything they had.
“We know what our problems are and we’ll work very hard on the training pitch to try to improve them and get better.
“I’ve told the lads, what they’ve given me, I can work with that.
“I can work with players who are brave and show a bit of character, and I thought we showed that tonight.”
Caldwell hit out at referee Steve Martin for not standing up to a rather robust Millwall outfit, which resulted in the game getting out of hand after the break.
“We said before the game it was going to be feisty, with both teams - in the position they were in - having to do everything to win,” revealed Caldwell.
“Waggy, I can see why he’s done it, but I thought their boy comes in and stamps on him - which they got away with a lot all night.
“In the first half, there was one team trying to play football and one was out to rough up the other and put us off our game.
“I said that to the players, and they lost their way for five minutes, they let it affect them.
“The referee didn’t control the game at that point, and the game got out of hand in the second half because of that.
“We needed a strong referee in a stadium like this, but our players also have to be a bit cuter.
“The second red card, I can’t see how it’s a red card – it’s a good old-fashioned hard tackle from a centre-half.
“He wins the ball, he does come through the man, but he shouldn’t be sent off for that.”
Relegation rivals Rotherham are expected to be docked three points for fielding an ineligible player in a recent fixture.
Caldwell, though, is not wasting much time worrying about that situation.
“It’s totally out of our control,” he added.
“We want to control what we can at the football club, and improve both individually and as a team on a daily basis.
“We will concentrate 100 per cent on that, recover from this and try to put on a performance for our own fans on Saturday.
“What I’ve seen from the players in terms of desire and application to do what we’ve asked them to do, I couldn’t be happier.
“But we still need to do more to win football matches, because that’s how you’re going to be judged.”