Encouraging signs despite sluggish start...HAVING seen his Development side go two goals down to Wigan on Tuesday afternoon, John Ward saw enough battling qualities to leave Greater Manchester with some satisfaction.
Milan Lalkovic’s first-half strike brought the Saddlers back in to the game but the Latics managed to see out the remaining hour of the match to record a 2-1 victory.
“It was similar to the game we played a few weeks ago,” described Ward. “It was a very tight and very closely fought encounter.“
"We again competed really well in very difficult conditions, as did Wigan.
“The wind, the rain and the heavy pitch made it diffuclut but both teams worked very hard to provide a good game of football.”
The home side raced into a two goal lead thanks to a first half brace from Louis Robles, this after Jordan Cook had already struck the woodwork. Both sides fielded a mixture of experienced and younger players but it was the sluggish opening period to the game which was Ward’s only gripe.
“I’m disappointed with the start,” he admitted. “It gave us a problem and I was looking at the side thinking ‘come on then’ we need to improve.
“To their credit they done exactly that and what pleased me most is that we didn’t go under.
“We found a goal back by half time, and in the 15 minutes going into the break we could have been level but in general it was a good response from the team.
“We changed the shape a little in the second half. Sean [O’Driscoll] wanted to look at something slightly different.
“Again it was a tight second period but towards the end Liam Roberts made two excellent one on one saves to keep us in it.”
The team featured Manchester City Defender, Ellis Plummer who the club are monitoring for the second time this season, behind a midfield partnership of Bournemouth’s Josh Wakefield and on loan Middlesbrough man Bryn Morris.
Despite all three being at different stages of their fitness, Ward was pleased with their performance.
“Ellis was obviously here before and got injured so it was good to see him back.
“He came in and done very well alongside Matt Preston.
“Bryn was very instrumental in our play and linked up well with Josh Wakefield. It was only Josh’s second game in a while so he will get sharper.
“They’re all at different stages in their fitness so it was good to get more game time for all of them.”