Paul Cook bemoans first-half display as Wigan are made to wait for title

Posted Sunday, April 29, 2018 by PA

Paul Cook bemoans first-half display as Wigan are made to wait for title

Paul Cook blamed a “lacklustre first-half performance” for the 1-1 draw with AFC Wimbledon that prevented his Wigan side securing the Sky Bet League One title with a game to spare.

With second-placed Blackburn losing at Charlton, three points would have seen Latics crowned champions.

But an inspired display from Wimbledon goalkeeper George Long kept Wigan at bay, with Ryan Colclough and Will Grigg in particular wondering how they had not scored.

And Wigan had to be content with Michael Jacobs’ 69th-minute equaliser – a deflected left-foot shot – which cancelled out Joe Pigott’s cool first-half finish.

“I’m not going to over-analyse the game, because they were two contrasting halves,” assessed Cook.

“It was a very lacklustre performance from us in the first half, and we’ve been giving too many goals to teams in the last few weeks.

“We’ve not just been at it like we should be, and in the majority of the games this season we’ve been able to dominate the game.

“You can’t be doing that when you’re 1-0 down, though – you have to do it at 0-0.

“After what they’ve given me this season, I can’t criticise this group of players – I wouldn’t dream of it.

“When you’re sitting on 95 points, it is a lot of points.

“It’s more points than I’ve ever taken as a manager, and if we could get to 98 next week, that would cap some season.”

Despite seeing the chance of securing the title slip through his fingers, he chose to look at the bigger picture.

“Of course there’s an inevitable tinge of disappointment we haven’t managed to deliver the title in front of our own fans,” he added.

“But there’s also a tinge of excitement in me that we’re going to take over 4,000 fans to Doncaster next weekend, and what a day that could be.”

AFC Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley, on the other hand, was celebrating a precious point despite his side having to overcome the loss of Tom Soares in the warm-up.

“With eight players out at the moment, and losing Tom in the warm-up, it was a tough ask,” said Ardley.

“We were brave, we played 4-4-2, and I thought the first hour was our best chance of getting on top – and that’s how it proved.

“The last half an hour was relentless, we knew it would be like that, but we put our bodies on the line and it was enough.

“Towards the end it was all hands to the pump – we had forwards back defending and doing their bit.

“The goalkeeper’s made some great saves, the defence have stood firm and we’ve all put in a shift.

“That’s five unbeaten now, and we need to just keep going now and get ourselves over the line.”


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