Shaun Maloney says Wigan ‘ahead of schedule’ after Northampton win

By Sports Desk August 12, 2023

Shaun Maloney admits his Wigan Athletic side are “ahead of schedule” after starting their Sky Bet League One campaign with two successive wins following a 2-1 victory over Northampton at the DW Stadium.

Having started the campaign with an eight-point deduction for financial issues last season, Wigan are now only two points from wiping out that deficit after a flying start.

Two goals in the last 20 minutes from Charlie Hughes and Callum McManaman gave them victory over Northampton, who had led through a Sam Hoskins free-kick after 24 minutes.

Maloney’s men would move into positive points with another win at Carlisle on Tuesday.

“It’s been a really positive start in the league,” he said.

“We set ourselves a target of six games to get into positive points, so we’re maybe a little ahead of schedule.

“But we know what football can do.

“In terms of today’s game, I thought it opened up in the last 20 minutes, but we had a brilliant feeling at the end.

“And all the credit has to go to the players.

“It was the players that had to see out the last half an hour at Derby, where we had to defend for our lives.

“We had to do the same here for the last 10 minutes plus seven minutes of injury time.

“But the mentality of the young group, I think it’s always a bit of an unknown.

“And we had some big, big performances today to get us over the line.”

Wigan’s matchwinner was McManaman, who is in his third spell at the club, having won a 12-month deal in the summer after training with the side since Maloney’s arrival in January.

“I thought he was brilliant in the first half against Derby, but he’s had a knock on his hip,” added the Wigan boss.

“I would have liked to have started him today, and I ended up needing him longer than I wanted.

“But it was a brilliant day for Callum.

“I’ve seen the progression he’s made while he’s been back here, all the work he’s put in, and I’m so, so happy for him.”

For Northampton boss Jon Brady, it was a case of what might have been.

“It’s a step up in standard and, if you don’t defend right, you get punished, and we were today,” he said.

“We’re still getting there, but today’s performance gave me a lot of confidence in the group.

“On a big pitch like this, it’s very difficult to step on and press like we did in the first half.

“And that’s a big reason why we couldn’t step on as much in the second half.

“We scored a very good goal, that’s the quality Sam possesses.

“We also hit the post, but I’ll compliment Wigan here.

“The blocks in the box won them the game today.

“A lot of our opportunities were what I’d want from my team.

“But their attitude, their never-say-die, their never-give-up, was really commendable.”

Both Brady and his assistant Colin Caldwerwood were yellow carded in the final half an hour by referee Ross Joyce.

“McManaman has poleaxed one of my players, and the referee has done nothing about that,” he added.

“And the fourth official pretends he hasn’t seen it, which is disappointing.

“It’s just the consistency and the dark arts they were using.

“But I’ll leave it there before I say too much.”

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