HomeMatch Reports1999-2000 - Wigan Athletic 3 Watford 1

Worthington Cup Second Round - Tuesday 21st September 1999

Wigan Athletic
Simon Haworth 19
Simon Haworth 78
Carl Bradshaw (pen) 90
Wigan Athletic
Peter Kennedy 62
Kick-off: 19:45
Venue: JJB Stadium
Referee: John Kirkby (Sheffiled)
Attendance: 5,006
AET FT 3-1 Watford win on away goals

Report by: Dave Seddon - Wigan Evening Post

WIGAN Athletic's Worthington Cup dreams may be over for another year, but last night's clash with Watford will live long in the memory.

Latics gave their Premiership visitors the fright of their lives and, in the end, the sides could only be separated by the away goals rule.

Just four days after pulling off the surprise result of the season so far by beating Chelsea, Watford found themselves on the wrong end of a shock scoreline. 

And this victory for John Benson's boys was no fluke, far from it.

Latics controlled all but a 15-minute spell of an absorbing contest, playing some delightful passing football which bemused their top-flight opponents.

Simon Haworth opened the night's scoring to offer Latics a route back into the tie following last week's 2-0 defeat at Vicarage Road.

A stunning equaliser from Peter Kennedy swung it back in Watford's favour, and ultimately proved enough to send them into the next round.

But they still had to endure a wretched time at the hands of their hosts, as Haworth notched his second Of the night, before a last-gasp penalty from Carl Bradshaw sent the game into extra time.

In the extra half-hour they desperately tried to find the back of the net again, but a fourth goal eluded them.

Afterwards, Watford boss Graham Taylor wore the look of a relieved man, and his admission that Latics had been the better side over the two legs pointed to just how well they had performed.

Without the injured Andy Liddell and Ian Kilford, Latics lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, with Kevin Sharp and Roberto Martinez making their first starts of the season.

Stuart Balmer, Arjan De Zeeuw and Mark Bowen formed a new-look three-man defence, with Sharp and Bradshaw pushed on as wing backs.

Martinez slotted into the 'hole' between the midfield and the front pairing of Haworth and Stuart Barlow.

And considering he hadn't started a first team game since the early part of last season, the Spaniard was outstanding.

Perhaps he found himself with more room than in Second Division games, but he hardly put a foot wrong with much of the attacking play channelled through him.

From my point of view, he just about shaded man of the match award from skipper Bradshaw who worked tirelessly up and down the right flank.

It was hard to imagine that it was only his third game back after a hernia operation.

The opening stages of the game gave no clues as to the drama which would unfold, but Haworth's opener in the 19th minute changed all that.

Taking a pass from Bradshaw just outside the box, the Welsh striker squared the ball into the path of Barlow, whose shot from 14 yards hit the legs of keeper Alec Chamberlain.

But it rebounded into the path of HAWORTH who stroked the ball into the unguarded net from close range.

Martinez hit a 20-yard shot just wide of the target five minutes later as Latics took control, while only a sliding block from Mark Williams prevented Haworth's low drive low drive finding it's way towards goal.

Barlow thought he had doubled the lead in the 36th minute when he headed home Bradshaw's pass at the far post, but a linesman's flag robbed him of glory.

Watford offered little in response, with their only chance of the first half falling Allan Smart's way, but his shot from Kennedy's cross was blocked by De Zeeuw.

The early play in the second half continued to be bossed by Latics, with Bradshaw sending a 25-yard rocket shot straight into the arms of Chamberlain. 

Martinez unpicked the visitor's defence in the 61st minute with a slide-rule pass to find Barlow, but the striker's first-time shot was comfortably held by the keeper.

Within 60 seconds, Watford levelled with their first shot on target of the whole game.

A cross from the right wing was headed clear by Balmer, but the ball fell to KENNEDY 25 yards out, and he crashed a volley past Carroll into the far top corner of the net.

Lifted by the goal, Watford enjoyed their best spell of the game and should have put the tie beyond Latics with two golden chances in the space of four minutes.

After 68 minutes, Clint Easton's through ball sent Micah Hyde clear on goal with just Carroll to beat, but his shot clipped the top of the bar.

Then, in the 72nd minute, they were awarded a penalty when Sharp whipped Nigel Gibbs' legs from under him as he burst down the right-hand side of the area.

Kennedy stepped up and hit the spot-kick confidently, but Carroll guessed correctly and plunged to his left to beat away the shot, with Michael Ngogne blazing the rebound into the crowd.

The let-off gave Latics new hope, and they took the lead in the 78th minute to set up a grandstand finish.

Darren Sheridan delivered a corner from the right, Chamberlain came off his line but missed his punch, and HAWORTH headed home from seven yards.

With Bradshaw pushed up into an attacking role in the final minutes, they were rewarded with a third goal in dramatic circumstances.

As the clock ticked over the 90-minute mark into injury-time, Gibbs appeared to shove Haworth in the back as they challenged for a cross, and referee John Kirkby pointed to the spot for the second time.

The protests were waved away, and BRADSHAW drove the penalty low to Chamberlain's right.

In all fairness, both sides could have snatched a goal in extra-time.

Barlow latched on to Haworth's pass to break clear of the visitor's defence but lost his footing, while Easton's 35 yard chip in the 114th minute had Carroll back-pedalling to tip it over the bar. Then, in the dying seconds, Dominic Foley curled a shot against the post, while at the other end a low shot from Michael O'Neill got the slightest deflection to take it the wrong side of the post.

It's now back to the hard graft of the Second Division, starting at Cardiff on Saturday. But if Latics can produce this kind of form week in, week out, success shouldn't be too far away.

  • Watford
  • Alec Chamberlain
  • Clint Easton
  • Robert Page
  • Steve Palmer
  • Nigel Gibbs
  • Paul Robinson
  • Mark Williams
  • Peter Kennedy
  • Micah Hyde
  • Allan Smart 46
  • Nick Wright 46
  • Chris Day
  • Johann Gudmundsson
  • Alex Bonnot
  • Dominic Foley 46
  • Michael Ngonge 46
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