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Shaun Maloney hails Wigan character in hard-fought win at Shrewsbury

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 17 Feb 2024

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Wigan boss Shaun Maloney praised his side’s mentality after securing a 1-0 win at Shrewsbury to pull eight points clear of the relegation zone.

After a dull first half with limited opportunities for both sides, the Latics found the decisive goal just minutes before the hour mark from a corner.

Matt Smith, with his first goal for Wigan, swept home from inside the box and sent the travelling fans home happy.

Shrewsbury went close to a late equaliser when defender Chey Dunkley rose highest from a corner but his headed effort clipped a defender and went out for another set piece.

Maloney said: “First half, we did a lot of things right with the ball without being as intense with it as I would have liked.

“It flipped second half, you also saw we scored a goal and had to hang in and show a different mentality – not one we have shown recently.

“I thought the players were brilliant, the players who started and the ones who came on made some amazing blocks to stop shots on our goal.

“I probably get more pleasure watching the team putting their body on the line for their club and team-mates and they did that today, so I loved every bit of that.

“When we play like we did in the first 20 minutes, we have to be in front, maybe not the chances, but we should have created more chances with the amount of possession we had.

“We have to be more ruthless when we break through teams in the middle of the pitch and we have to hurt them.”

Shrews boss Paul Hurst felt his side were worthy of a point.

He said: “I don’t think the performance overall deserved to lose the game but ultimately we have and we have to try and change that.

“The general consensus from what I have been told is that the performances have been better.

“I do believe you have to put in decent performances to give yourself a chance of winning the game, so we will obviously want to stick with that and hope something can drop.

“I can’t knock the players in terms of effort but what I will say is I was disappointed with the start we made and I think we took 20 minutes to get started.

“For the majority of the game we were the team pushing on top; once they get in front, they will probably be happy defending a bit deeper and not committing men forward but I also felt we pushed them back.

“Although they ended up keeping a clean sheet, their bench would be not happy with the number of crosses and set plays they had to defend.”

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