Boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has hit out at the ‘ridiculous’ schedule that allowed Wigan an extra day’s rest ahead of their clash with the Cobblers on New Year’s Day.
Wigan drew 0-0 with Charlton Athletic on Friday evening, while the Cobblers lost 3-1 at Portsmouth on Saturday.
The two clubs then met on Monday and the Latics ran out 1-0 winners thanks to Nick Powell’s fifth minute header as they kept themselves two points clear of Shrewsbury at the top of the Sky Bet League One table.
The short time frame between games meant Hasselbaink felt compelled to freshen his side up and make four changes, bringing in Shaun McWilliams, George Smith, Sam Foley and Daniel Powell while resting usual first-team regulars David Buchanan and John-Joe O’Toole.
The Cobblers produced a much-improved performance compared to the one they served up at Fratton Park 48 hours earlier but that did not stop Hasselbaink from expressing his frustration with the schedule.
“I thought it was a ridiculous decision by the League because Wigan played on Friday and we played on Saturday and to have a game in 48 hours, they have a big advantage because they have 72 hours of rest,” he said.
“And when the games are so close together, that’s a big advantage. I have to make a decision on who can recover as quickly as possible and also who is going to play.
“You’re looking at the previous games and how they have done, and I thought it was time for JJ to influence the game from the bench and I also that with David Buchanan.
“I knew that we were going to play against (Gavin) Massey and he’s a very quick, energetic player and I thought George Smith would cope better with that, and he did.”
Hasselbaink reserved special praise for the performance of McWilliams whose energy and desire in midfield was a feature of the game, with the youngster at the heart of Town’s best two moments of the match before being replaced late on.
His break into the box brought a good save from visiting goalkeeper Christian Walton just prior to Wigan’s opener while he also slipped in Powell for a chance later in the half.
“I didn’t want to change Shaun because I thought he played really, really well. We put him in today for his energy and his commitment,” added Hasselbaink. “I think he led us and that was good but he ran out of steam.
“He’s a young boy and that’s why I had to take him off - but I am ever so proud of him.
“He does the locals really proud and he wears his heart on his sleeve. He goes for it and I’m very happy with his performance.”