18 March 2023

Shaun Maloney ‘incredibly impressed’ with Wigan’s effort at Watford

18 March 2023

Wigan manager Shaun Maloney felt his team coped admirably with unpaid wages, as they drew 1-1 at Watford.

Maloney’s Sky Bet Championship strugglers took a point from Vicarage Road, as James McClean’s second-half goal cancelled out Keinan Davis’ opener just before half-time.

Wigan saw weekly payments to players halted less than 48 hours before the match and Maloney had said he was concerned about the reaction to the news.

As the Wigan manager flew out to Bahrain on Saturday evening, to deal with the issue with the club owners, he was full of praise for the efforts of his players.

He said “Very important point, considering the league position. But when you put into context what’s happened in the last 48 hours and the feeling within the group, and it did change in the lead-up, I’m just incredibly impressed.

“I’m proud to be a part of that, my team was in it. It’s still not the case that we’ve been paid, unfortunately. So what they did today was incredible.

“My big worry before the game was how we would be, it was a really poor goal that we lost.

“I think in the first half we were OK, both teams were OK. I really felt at half-time that they believed how good they could be in this game.”

The home side should have taken the lead after just seven minutes. A long punt up the field by goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann was left alone by defender Ryan Nyambe, who let in Joao Pedro. After rounding goalkeeper Ben Amos, the striker could only shoot into the side-netting.

The home side finally and deservedly went ahead just before the interval when Davis rounded off an impressive solo run into the area with a shot through a group of defenders and into the Wigan net.

Jeremy Ngakia tested the Wigan goal with a volley seven minutes before the interval, but he put his effort a foot wide.

Wigan offered little in the half, although Danel Sinani fired wide from outside the area on 42 minutes.

In an attempt to change things in his team’s favour, Maloney replaced Steven Caulker with Callum Lang for the second half.

The substitute played a significant part for the visitors six minutes after the restart, when his cross was met by McClean for the equaliser.

Imran Louza hit the post on the hour mark but Wigan were also capable of netting a winner, although neither side could make the decisive strike.

Wigan remain five points off safety, Watford are five points behind the final play-off spot and head coach Chris Wilder believed his side suffered from fatigue.

He said “We looked a little lethargic after they scored. Our levels did drop from a conditioning point of view.

“That might be something I can’t do something about at this moment. There won’t be any magic pills for the next nine games.

“We looked a little stretched. There were a lot of tired legs and tired minds.”

“Missed opportunity, a little bit of frustration. It was a frustrating afternoon.

“My analysis of the game was that in the first five or 10 minutes they started really brightly. Then we got a foothold for the next 30 minutes.

“We didn’t show that quality that we’ve got. I was a bit disappointed with our energy levels, I thought they dropped off second half.”

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