ROBERTO Martinez admitted the vital victory at Sunderland was reward for several weeks’ worth of decent performances that hadn’t been reflected in Wigan Athletic’s results.
Wigan didn’t have it all their own way at the Stadium of Light, but dug in and ground out what could prove to be a priceless three points.
After going behind to Seb Larsson’s early goal, Latics fought back to level just before half-time when Victor Moses was fouled in the area and Jordi Gomez made no mistake from the spot.
It looked like honours would be shared until James McArthur robbed Wes Brown deep in stoppage time, and fed fellow substitute Franco di Santo to fire his fourth goal of the campaign.
And the Wigan boss admits victory tasted even sweeter given the hardship his men had suffered in recent weeks.
“We have worked very, very hard to get a positive result in the last few weeks, and we’ve had to put up with disappointment after disappointment,” Martinez said.
“Not being able to get that feeling that the players have deserved in recent weeks probably pushed us over the line in that last minute.
“Franco came on and made a really massive impact as did James McArthur, and the difference the substitutes made shows you the character and the togetherness in the dressing room.
“I thought it was a performance that was all about what you need to come to grounds like this and get a result.
“We perhaps didn’t have the dominance or the flair that we have showed in other games but, in terms of knowing what we had to do to get a result, I thought it was a joy to see the players going about their work.”
“To have found a performance like that after such a bad run of results speaks volumes about the players.
“Throughout the bad run we never lost our standards, and that’s very important.
“Remember that we are not fighting to get away from the bottom of the league - we are fighting to try and get more points than we got last season.
“That will be a long process, but it should give every Wigan Athletic supporter hope for the future.”
Black Cats boss Steve Bruce insists he will not walk away from Sunderland after the demoralising 2-1 defeat.
Bruce said: “I have never given up on anything, certainly not in football anyway.
“Certainly, my intention is not to walk away or quit. That’s certainly not in my nature either.
“There’s something in me which says I will try to turn it around.
“We are finding it very, very difficult at the moment. Patience in football doesn’t last very long, but as far as my future is concerned, that’s up to others.
“In terms of sticking with it and staying at it, I am more determined that ever to see it through because I don’t think we are that far away.”
Bruce’s Tyneside roots remain a source of disquiet for some sections of the Black Cats’ fans, and he admitted there is nothing he can do about that.
He said: “It borders on abuse, but I can’t help where I was born.
“When it gets like it is it’s disappointing to hear, of course.
“But I am a resilient so and so and I have had stick all my life and come through it, certainly in football anyway.”