WIGAN ATHLETIC manager Warren Joyce has taken a life out of new Bury boss Lee Clark’s book by calling each of their remaining games ‘Cup finals’.
Clark has said that about Bury after being tasked with keeping the Shakers in League One last week while Joyce is trying to keep last season’s champions Wigan in the Championship after replacing Gary Caldwell in November.
Latics had the chance to climb out of the drop zone with victory at QPR on Tuesday night, but the hosts took the lead in each half to claim a 2-1 victory. That condemned Wigan to their 1st defeat in 3 games after winning 1-0 at Wolves last Tuesday and then drawing 0-0 at home to Preston on Saturday.
It also kept Latics 3rd-bottom, 2 points from safety with 13 games left. Saturday sees them return to the DW Stadium to host a Nottingham Forest side they beat last month in the FA Cup. Forest then had a mini-revival under interim boss Gary Brazil but they’ve now lost their last 3, leaving them 6 points above Wigan in 18th.
Joyce said: “Every game is a cup final and that’s the way we have got to approach it. We have put little runs together with wins and draws but not built on it and enjoyed a good run for a more sustained period.
“It’s a long journey back now, and we have to make sure we look after the players because it’s been a busy period of games and then we’ll prepare for the next cup final against Forest on Saturday.”
Latics centre-half Jake Buxton was caught out by a punt forward from the QPR keeper in the 4th minute, allowing Connor Washington to square for ex-Oldham striker Matt Smith to sweep in the opener.
Max Power then latched onto a loose QPR pass to play Omar Bogle into the box and the new Wigan striker was brought down for a 17th-minute penalty, which he sidefooted into claim his 1st goal since scoring twice on his debut against Norwich.
Bogle was denied after the break but the hosts then broke on the hour mark for Washington to fire the winning goal into the bottom corner from just outside the box.
Joyce added: “It’s two poor goals we’ve conceded really – poor reaction times, poor decisions, a poor start and positional sense. I have talked about it before, about managing games through and being in good start positions for throw-ins and goal-kicks, things as basic as that, and that’s what is costing us really. We have to be better and be brighter in our thinking to recognise those things and get in good positions to do the basics right.”