Phillip Cocu admitted Graeme Shinnie’s dramatic late winner was well worth the wait as Derby County ran out 1-0 winners against Wigan Athletic in the Sky Bet Championship on Wednesday evening.
Midfielder Shinnie struck a veracious right-footed effort into the top corner of the net deep into added time, in front of the South Stand, to hand the Rams a third successive home victory.
The game had looked to be petering out to a goalless affair but the summer signing from Aberdeen fired home after good work by Duane Holmes and Chris Martin.
Sealing all three points was the perfect response to the disappointing 3-0 loss against Charlton Athletic at The Valley on Saturday in their first game since the October international break.
Cocu was happy with the way his side stayed in the game, particularly when it came to defending set-pieces and crosses into the box, as well as the character on display from his players.
Speaking to RamsTV, Cocu said: “What a finish!
“It was a great goal and fantastic for Graeme to get the winner. He worked very hard for the team.
“We had to wait a long time for the goal, but it came and it shows again that it pays off if you are really focused on defending set pieces.
“Defensively we did much better and we have a clean sheet. A goal you can score at any moment and Graeme scored a great goal to win it for us.”
He added: “I think we showed good character and a good spirit and that is what our fans expect. A lot of the fans came to support us and I think you can see in the last ten minutes of the game, everybody was tired.
“The opponents were tired and we were tired, but just by lifting us a little at the end of the game, we went forward again and again and that’s what the home fans can give you. I can only thank our fans and I am happy we could give them the win.”
Cocu admitted his side displayed some nervousness in their game, particularly in the first-half.
However, he felt the Rams improved as the game wore on as he made attacking changes as they chased a winner.
He said: “We should just play like we can because I don’t like us coming onto the pitch being so careful by almost being afraid of making a mistake.
“We were nervous the first half, we needed too many touches and we can accelerate better and build up and play earlier to the forwards. This will help us.
“If you are afraid to make a mistake, you will make it. It works in that way. You try to put everything on the pitch and you have to do your job for the team.
“When we have the ball, we need everybody to participate to play. If you need too many touches, you give your opponent time to re-organise and that is really difficult to create a chance. As the game went on we got better, we played fast and also forward.
“A lot of crosses came in and that is why I think with Chris Martin and Jack Marriott, and Martyn Waghorn too in the beginning behind Chris, we had more presence in the 18-yard box.”