After the high of a 4-0 win just two days before, 34-year-old Paul Gallagher knows all too well the harsh realities of football as North End were brought back down to earth this afternoon.
Alex Neil’s side were beaten 2-0 with goals from Leon Clarke and Lee Evans inflicting defeat on an unchanged North End side that had beaten Ipswich Town 4-0 on Good Friday.
Speaking after the game, Gallagher said: “We knew coming here was going to be difficult. Wigan were fighting for their lives to stay in this league and we wanted to finish the season strongly.
“I think there’s a stat that the manager has never lost a local derby so it was disappointing to lose today. Getting a man sent off has killed us to be fair and that’s something we need to improve on, our discipline.
“There’s no malice in the challenge, it’s just mis-timed but we need to cut it out because it gives the referee a chance to send one of our players off. In the second half we showed a lot of character, we rolled our sleeves up and we had a spell in the second half when we were on top, we just needed to get that goal but it just didn’t fall our way.
“We have a number of young players playing at this level for the first time and it’s a learning curve for them. When things are going well it’s good but sometimes you need a little knock down to reality and you get that in football.
"I look around the dressing room and I see people who want to learn, sometimes it’s hard not to be complacent when you’re a young player, - when you look at players like myself who’ve been here a long time, you know football can be a great game sometimes but it can also be a horrible game. I’m sure they’ll learn from it, I’m still learning myself.”
North End went behind as early as the 11thminute with Leon Clarke fired the hosts ahead early on, and when Ledson was sent off 25 minutes later, the task became even more difficult for North End.
Gallagher continued: “We knew we had to start well, we had to turn them, they want to play on the front foot and the stats say they start games well, especially at home.
“We turned the ball well at times and earned the space to play but we were sloppy at times, giving the ball away in needless areas and they were breaking on us. The first ball into the box, they score from.
“After that, we took our foot off the gas, feeling sorry for ourselves and making the wrong decisions. We wanted to make something happen but sometimes you have to play with your head not just your heart.
"Second half we came out and rallied, we knew we were going to leave ourselves a bit short at the back but it’s a local derby and we wanted to get back into the game. We should have taken our chances when we were on top, the ref is one of the best refs in the league, but when Seani cuts inside and beats Morsy, it’s a professional foul, he’s going into the box and he’s going to get a shot off, the ref deems it just a foul and that could swing the whole game. It’s a big decision but before that I thought we rallied and could have easily have got a goal back.
“Those big decisions came at pivotal times, it’s disappointing but we need to look at ourselves first and foremost. We should do better with and without the ball. It’s disappointing because we had a great backing today and we wanted to send the fans home happy."