Latics dig deep
Reporter: MATTHEW CHAMBERS
Date online: 09 October 2013
LEE Johnson praised the inner strength of his walking wounded after Athletic progressed to the Northern quarter-finals of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Preston’s expense.
“We nearly had to make three substitutions in the warm-up,” he said.
A goal from Danny Philliskirk after only 15 seconds - and a cracker eight minutes later from James Wesolowski - sent the visitors through at Deepdale.
A first clean sheet of 2013-14 was picked up too - remarkable because James Tarkowski had been ill for four days and fellow defenders Genseric Kusunga and Joseph Mills were also muddling through.
“Tarkowski had been ill and got out of bed for the game,” said Johnson, who replaced the defender with David Mellor at half-time.
“Joseph Mills had a tight calf and a golf ball-size lump on it, but he got through for a certain amount of time. Korey Smith felt his thigh in the warm-up and Genseric was feeling his hamstring near the end.
“But our character came through. For the first 30 minutes we were brilliant and we knew we would have to start like that because by the end we would be hanging on in there.
“There were a lot of really good performances. First half it was good quality, second half good character.”
This was Athletic’s first victory since the 4-1 triumph over Shrewsbury in round one of the competition.
Johnson was delighted with the way his men managed the match despite weariness.
Athletic don’t play again until Carlisle visit Oldham on October 19 - Notts County chose to postpone Saturday’s game due to international call-ups. The game has been rearranged for October 29.
“I was disappointed at first, but in hindsight we need it to get everyone back to 100 per cent fitness,” he added.
“The Orient game on Saturday was good; this was a stage up from that.”
The draw for the area quarter-finals of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy will be made on Saturday, October 12, live on Soccer AM.
Athletic are in the ‘Northern’ hat with Rochdale, Fleetwood, Chesterfield, Carlisle, Hartlepool, Notts County and Rotherham.
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