A Tiger Woods-themed half-time team talk was the inspiration behind Gillingham’s 1-0 win over Wigan which took the victors into the League One play-off places, according to Steve Evans.
Vadaine Oliver’s 76th-minute header broke the visitors’ stubborn resistance and took the in-form hosts into the top six for the first time since October.
It was the striker’s 14th goal of the season and with the Masters coming up next weekend, Gills boss Evans used the image of Augusta to spur his side on at the break.
“My players laughed when I said this, but I told them at half-time that I can remember watching Tiger Woods playing at Augusta on the 18th when he had to put the four-iron onto the green,” he said.
“He did it and he got the jacket. I said to the players that when the chance comes put that four-iron on Vadaine Oliver’s head – go and get the green jacket.
“I wouldn’t have signed him (Oliver) if I didn’t think that our talisman striker wouldn’t score goals.
“If you give Vaidaine Oliver chances then he’ll score goals. It is a fantastic header – put two goalkeepers in goal and they don’t save that.”
Oliver could have broken the deadlock in the first half but fired straight at Jamie Jones after capitalising on George Johnston’s poor backpass.
The visitors squandered two golden opportunities to break the deadlock before half-time as the unmarked Curtis Tilt fired over from Thelo Aasgaard’s cross before the Norweigan midfielder headed straight at Jack Bonham from 10 yards.
Jamie Proctor fired two efforts over the bar after the interval as the Latics continued to threaten but they were made to pay for their profligacy when Oliver headed home Ryan Jackson’s cross.
Jackson then came to the rescue at the other end, clearing Callum Lang’s header off the line to secure a victory Evans felt his side deserved.
“We were totally galvanised, giving everything for the cause, and running as hard in the 95th minute as we were in the fifth minute,” added Evans.
“It’s a hard-earned win for us and that’s testament to the group we have in the dressing room who fight for everything.
“We had to win tonight. We can’t tell the fans everything but internally we said before Hull on Saturday that we had to get four out of six points minimum out of these games.
“We had to leave players up the pitch. Promotion-chasing teams have always scored goals – they take their chances when they have to score goals.”
Caretaker Wigan manager Leam Richardson admitted his side’s finishing let them down.
He told Latics TV: “First and foremost, the elation is there following the takeover by good people, people who want to take the club in the right direction that the fans and the history of the football club deserves.
“I have to say – with the emotion still inside me – that I am very proud of the lads with how they dealt with certain styles of play within the game.
“I thought we stood up like men and the quality came from us; we had a few chances to win a couple of games but, in the end, we succumbed to one too many balls in our box and we’ve fallen on the wrong side of the result.
“We know the challenge that is ahead and we will keep rolling our sleeves up to tackle that.
“Straight away after the game there are a lot of emotions and people will have opinions of certain things but one thing I will say is that the lads couldn’t have given any more tonight.
“I did feel we had some great quality but without that final bit of calmness in the final third.”