HomeMatch Reports1999-2000 - Wigan Athletic 5 Blackpool 1

Nationwide League Division Two - Tuesday 7th March 2000

Wigan Athletic
Andy Liddell 6
Gareth Griffiths 59
Simon Haworth 82
Stuart Barlow 89
Darren Sheridan 90
Wigan Athletic
Wayne Gill 2
Kick-off: 19:45
Venue: JJB Stadium
Referee: Guy Stretton (Nottingham)
Attendance: 6,451

Report by: Dave Seddon - Wigan Evening Post

FIVE STAR Latics put their promotion drive back on the rails in style and banished the memory of a miserable two months.

The demolition of a poor Blackpool side was their first win in the league since the start of January and the result rockets them back into the automatic promotion picture.

After such a barren run of results, it was encouraging to see Latics hit top note in front of their own fans.

They had a first minute wobble when Wayne Gill fired the visitors in front on his debut, but then it was back to business.

Andy Liddell hauled them level within five minutes before Gareth Griffiths headed home in his first league goal for Latics after the break.

Simon Haworth and Stuart Barlow made it four near the end, before pint-sized Darren Sheridan towered above the Blackpool defence to head the fifth in stoppage time.

Among all the excitement of Latics' biggest win of the campaign, Terry Cooke made his debut after finally putting pen to paper on a month's loan move from Manchester City.

He was plunged straight into the side despite only meeting his new team mates an hour and a quarter before kick off.

While not setting the game on fire, he had a steady game considering he's been out of the first team picture at Maine Road for much of the season.

And he almost got his name on the scoresheet in the closing stages when a 25 yard rasper was fingertipped around the post by Seasiders keeper Tony Caig.

Although most eyes seemed to be fixed on Cooke - including the watching City boss Joe Royal - the evening in my book belonged to Liddell and Sheridan who were outstanding.

We've come to expect silver service from Liddell, but Sheridan has struggled in the main since his summer move from Barnsley.

Last night however, he was told by manager John Benson to stamp his authority on the midfield in the absence of Michael O'Neill, and responded in style.

Benson explained later: "I've been more than disappointed with Sheridan's form here.

"His argument to me has been that he is too similar a player to Michael O'Neill, although I don't agree with that.

"For me, Michael gets around the pitch a lot more, while Darren is better on the ball.

"I just told him that here was his opportunity with Michael missing.

"He had the midfield to himself and was never going to have a better chance than this."

As well as scoring the fifth goal, Sheridan also delivered the two corners which set up Griffiths and Haworth for their strikes, and he can be well satisfied with the night's work.

With a win vital to Latics' chances of staying in touch with the top two, Benson sent out an attacking formation which varied between a 3-4-3 and a 3-3-4.

Griffiths joined Arjan de Zeeuw and Stuart Balmer in a back three, Cooke was pushed up the pitch on the right, while Carl Bradshaw took up a slightly deeper role on the left.

Sheridan and Scott Green anchored the centre of midfield with Liddell, Haworth and Neil Roberts forming a three-man attack.

But on a night which turned out so well, Wigan couldn't have had a poorer start.

Just 61 seconds had elapsed when the home defence failed to deal properly with a Kevin Richardson corner, and GILL volleyed over Roy Carroll from the edge of the box to give Blackpool a shock lead.

Latics were only behind until the sixth minute though, when a pass from Roberts picked out LIDDELL in the area.

He exchanged passes with Haworth before driving a low shot which slipped through Caig's gloves and trickled over the line.

Goalmouth action was thin on the ground for much of the remainder of the first half, although Latics came to life again in stoppage time.

Haworth sent a header from Bradshaw's cross just wide, while Green saw a shot spilled by Caig before hitting a follow up effort across the face of goal.

The second half was almost totally dominated by Latics and they took the lead in the 59th minute.

Sheridan delivered a corner from the right and GRIFFITHS met it at the near post with a flying header which left Caig rooted to his line.

He hadn't found the net since the Worthington Cup clash agianst Norwich in September 1998 and it was the defender's first in the league for Latics.

Blackpool were rarely able to break upfield, although Darren Byfield fired into the side netting following a mazy run in the 61st minute.

Cooke, who found his feet as the game wore on, swapped passes with Liddell in the 80th minute before letting fly with a right foot shot which seemed destined for the far top corner until Caig got a glove to the ball to push it past the post.

But the home faithful were treated to a goal feast in the final few minutes.

In the 82nd minute, Sheridan again swung over a right wing corner, Caig dropped it as he came to collect through acrowd of players, and HAWORTH stabbed it over the line from close range.

The fourth arrived in the 89th minute from the boot of Barlow, his first goal at the JJB since mid November but his 22nd of the season overall.

Liddell's pass was laid back by Haworth into BARLOW'S path, and the substitute - an early replacement for the injured Roberts - side footed home from 14 yards.

Latics rubbed salt into the Blackpool's wounds four minutes into stoppage time, when SHERIDAN rose unchallenged to meet Barlow's left wing cross and glance a header into the far corner.

  • Blackpool
  • Tony Caig
  • Gary Ablett
  • Clarke Carlisle
  • Tommy Jaszczun
  • David Bardsley
  • Wayne Gill
  • Kevin Richardson 78
  • Philip Clarkson
  • John Hills
  • Darren Byfield 78
  • John Murphy 46
  • Phil Barnes
  • Paul Beesley
  • Junior Bent 46
  • Adam Nowland 78
  • Ian Hughes 78
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