Carson: Latics can bounce back
Scott Carson is confident Wigan can regroup from their FA Cup semi-final penalty shoot-out heartache against Arsenal and get back to Wembley in the Sky Bet Championship play-offs.
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The Latics - cup holders and conquers of Manchester City in the quarter-finals last month - were just seven minutes away from pulling off another major shock after going ahead through a penalty from Jordi Gomez on the hour.
However, Per Mertesacker's late equaliser sent the tie into extra-time and, after Arsenal had hit the woodwork through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, eventually on to the lottery of a shoot-out.
Substitute Gary Caldwell and Jack Collison, on loan from West Ham, both had their spot-kicks saved by Poland keeper Lukasz Fabianski as the Barclays Premier League side ran out 4-2 winners to reach their first FA Cup final since 2005.
Carson, though, believes Uwe Rosler's side can take heart from their FA Cup performances to boost their promotion drive over the closing five matches of the Championship campaign.
"It just wasn't to be, but we have to give ourselves credit and we can be proud that we took them all the way to penalties," Carson said on www.thefa.com.
"Our aim now is to come back here in May in the play-off final.
"We have to take a lot of confidence out of this, come back, and cement ourselves in the Premier League - there won't be too many teams that want to play us."
For long spells of Saturday's encounter, Rosler's game plan had worked well as after a promising start when Yaya Sanogo forced a good reaction save from Carson, Arsenal struggled to find any sort of rhythm despite plenty of possession.
Wigan made the most of the opportunity which came their way after midway through the second-half when Mertesacker tripped Callum McManaman.
Eventually, after a long delay for treatment and the substitution of Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal, Gomez smashed the resultant spot-kick past Fabianski to give the heavily outnumbered Latics supporters genuine hope another upset was on the cards.
Rosler felt the substitution of the lively McManaman because of cramp heading into the final 20 minutes of normal time, not long after Josh McEachran had been replaced by Collison, did have an impact on the way his side were able to set up for the closing stages.
He said: "Callum signalled to the bench that he had cramps in both calfs, and that was visible (to us).
"We did very well (pressing) against the ball, and you need to have the legs to sustain that pressure in the second half, which is why we had to make these two substitutions.
"It would have been nice to have another 10 or 15 minutes before making them, but unfortunately that happens and I needed to react after what I saw."
Rosler, though, feels his men can take plenty of positives out of the bitter disappointment of defeat as they now focus on the visit of fellow play-off hopefuls Reading on Good Friday.
"For me, we will be walking out of Wembley as losers on paper, but in our minds as winners because of how we presented ourselves, which was unbelievable," the German coach said.
"We all desperately wanted to go to the final, but we will move on now and our focus will be on the league.
"We will give the players a couple of days rest to recover mentally and physically, then we will go again.
"Reading is coming up on Friday, and that will be a crucial game for us."