Frank Lampard watched his Derby County side squeeze a 1-0 victory over 10-man Wigan Athletic - before insisting Paul Cook’s men will be ‘more than fine’ for the rest of the season.
Latics had to play for 75 minutes a man light following the sending-off of Kal Naismith for a last-man foul on the breaking Harry Wilson, who was about to pull the trigger.
Jack Marriott put the Rams ahead five minutes later, but Latics remained in the contest throughout and, on another day, may have nicked something.
“I think we have to give Wigan credit for the way they played, especially in the second half,” enthused Lampard.
“Their work-rate was fantastic, they had a plan, and they gave us different problems.
“I think Paul Cook’s a fantastic manager, and he tries to make his teams play regardless of the personnel.
“He’s brought them into the Championship and they’re more than holding their own in this league.
“Only Leeds have beaten them here before today so that shows what a tough team they are to play against.
“He’s a great personality and a great manager, and his team have also got that character with the way they played with 10 men.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Wigan and I’m sure they’ll be more than fine this season.”
Lampard felt his men were good value for the three points, and had only themselves to blame for not killing off the game in the first half when they were well on top.
“It was tough, and it shouldn’t have been in a way,” he acknowledged.
“In the first half we were fantastic and probably should have had two or three goals, which would have made it comfortable.
“Fair play to Wigan, they rearranged at half-time, and obviously had some words from their manager.
“They went very direct on us, and our quality levels dropped.
“But clean sheets have been very shy on us in recent weeks, and that was the important thing.
“I’m pleased with that, and I’m pleased with the win, because this is a tough place to come.
“The two centre-backs and the goalkeeper were outstanding, very assured, dealt with the long balls and the runners very well.
“And let’s not forget that our football in the first half was brilliant at times.
“Yes we were against 10 men, but even before the sending-off we created a lot of chances, moved the ball well and got in behind them.
“The quality level was great in the first half, second half we dug in, so we showed both sides of the game which is pleasing.”
Derby were perhaps fortunate not to finish the game with 10 men with Harry Wilson - on a yellow card after a first-half altercation with Sam Morsy - going to ground in the final quarter under little or no contact from Dan Burn, only for referee Gavin Ward to keep his cards in his pocket.
On the first-half incident, Lampard said: “I haven’t seen it again but I thought there was a foul on Harry, and a blatant attempt to try and get him sent off, to even the game up.
“And I’m not just having a go at Morsy, he was involved in the tackle, and it’s not his fault.
“But the reaction of the crowd and the pressure on the referee and Harry throughout the game was an attempt to level the game out.
“Thankfully the referee didn’t quite go for it, but I felt for Harry because he’s a genuine kid trying to play good football.
“In the second half he slipped, he got straight up, he didn’t ask for a penalty, players were slipping all over the pitch.
“But I took him off because I felt the atmosphere was going against him.
“And that was unfortunate because he was playing very well.”