WIGAN Athletic boss Gary Caldwell praised his side’s game management after their impressive 2-0 win at fellow promotion contenders Sheffield United on Saturday.
The Latics moved up to third in League One and extended their unbeaten run in 2016 with three points at Bramall Lane, courtesy of Will Grigg’s penalty and Conor McAleny’s debut strike.
The victory in south Yorkshire could have been more convincing had top scorer Grigg managed to convert a second penalty in the 74th minute.
“I was absolutely delighted from start to finish,” Caldwell told Wigan’s official TV channel.
“I thought we showed a lot of composure, game management and an understanding of how to win away from home by controlling the game in the first-half and then second-half showing devastating forward play to finish the game off.
“If anything, it could have been more with the penalty we had and the chances we created on the counter attack late on.”
Wigan controlled the first period without taking advantage of their superiority, but Caldwell wasn’t duly concerned.
The Scot said: “At half-time I told the lads they were doing OK because we were in control of the game and we were playing in possession but without hurting them as much as we could have.
“If they wanted to up it in terms of the speed of their play and their penetration in their passing then the opportunity was there for them.
“To be fair they were devastating in the second-half for 20 minutes or so and they could have had more than two goals.”
Caldwell reserved praise for 23-year-old McAleny, who only joined on loan from Premier League side Everton on Tuesday but capped a superb display with a low finish to wrap up the win.
“I thought Conor was superb,” he added. “He has only had a few days to train with us and that can be difficult but he showed the quality that he has in possession, he’s clever and tight with the ball, he doesn’t give much away.
“I also thought he worked hard to get back for the team because we had to change it today to combat their attacking threat from the full backs.
“We know that if he gets opportunities, which he will be cutting in off the wing, then he will be a finisher and I thought his goal was superb in the way that he took it.”
The Latics – who are unbeaten in 11 away league games and trail second-placed Walsall by one point – welcome second-bottom Oldham to the DW Stadium next weekend.