Shaun Maloney admitted Wigan made the last 15 minutes of the Sky Bet League One victory over Cambridge “more tense than it needed to be” after failing to make the most of their earlier dominance.
Goals from Stephen Humphrys and Thelo Aasgaard in the space of five minutes around the hour mark put Wigan firmly in charge at the DW Stadium.
The home side should have been ahead at the break, only for top scorer Charlie Wyke to fire against a post before he was denied in spectacular fashion by U’s goalkeeper Will Mannion.
A nervy finale ensued when, after Callum McManaman felled James Brophy in the box, Fejiri Okenabirhie reduced the arrears 14 minutes from time.
And although Wigan held on for the win, Maloney felt his side were almost their own worst enemy.
“It was probably a bit more tense than it should have been,” he said.
“But I guess that’s football, if you’re maybe not as clinical as the chances we had, especially in the first half.
“It was actually a very hard game, and it is very hard to stay patient when your opponent puts 11 players behind the ball.
“You have to be patient, and then when you get your chances, you’ve got to be clinical.
“There was a five-minute period when we went 2-0 up, and I felt we maybe became a little bit comfortable, we dropped our levels slightly.
“And as soon as it goes to 2-1 it’s game on and they can attack because they’ve got nothing to lose.
“But there was also a part of it I really like, at the end, when I see players putting their bodies on the line to not concede.
“I didn’t think we’d be in that situation, but there’s a real satisfaction I get when I see players really putting everything on the line for the team.”
For Cambridge head coach Mark Bonner it was almost a very good point on the road against a side he says “will be up there” at the end of the campaign.
“I thought it was a good game, both teams had plenty of chances,” he said.
“I was really pleased with how we started both halves, and how we finished, when we were chasing the game.
“Obviously Wigan defended their box great at the end and we couldn’t quite create, or make, one of those moments happen.
“I thought at the start of the second half we had enough moments to create some good chances and get ourselves in front in the game.
“But we haven’t stopped Humphrys cutting in off the wing and he’s hit it brilliantly.
“The second goal comes really quickly after that and that’s a tough for one for us as well, it’s poor defending really.
“We gave a really good account of ourselves, we created chances, but we were too erratic with them.
“We had a lot of attempts at goal, really good entries into the final third, but not enough of them worked the goalkeeper.”