HomeMatch Reports2002-2003 - Wigan Athletic 1 Manchester City 0

Worthington Cup Third Round - Tuesday 5th November 2002

Wigan Athletic
Neil Roberts 35
Wigan Athletic
Manchester City
Manchester City
Venue: JJB Stadium
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
Attendance: 15,007

Report by: John Patrick Heeley

The previous round had seen Wigan overcome Premier League new boys West Bromwich Albion with a convincing 3-1 victory at the JJB Stadium but there were those that tried to take the polish of the win by saying that the Baggies had only put their reserve side out.

Kevin Keegan brought a virtually full strength side for the Third Round clash and left empty handed with no excuses for the defeat which ended his hopes of Worthington Cup glory and with it his only realistic chance of a place in next season's UEFA Cup.

The kick off was delayed to allow the 15,007 crowd, the second highest for a Latics game since the move to the JJB Stadium, to get into the ground and once in they were rewarded with Wigan's second 'giant-killing' act in 5 weeks and saw them extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 15 games.

On duty for City were the likes of Nicolas Anelka, a £13 million summer signing from Paris St. Germain and who once commanded a £23 million fee when he left Arsenal for Real Madrid, Shaun Goater who is close to the 100 goal mark for City, Chinese international defender Sun Jihai and Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe. The list goes on.

Realistically I for one hadn't given Wigan a chance of progressing through to the Fourth Round for the first time in 21 years but the lads did us proud out there on the pitch and were full deserved of the win.

Paul Jewell had opted for the same 16 that had lined up to face Crewe at the weekend with Neil Roberts continuing alongside Nathan Ellington in attack leaving Andy Liddell out on the right wing.

Peter Kennedy started his second game since returning from an Achilles injury with Lee McCulloch again missing out through injury.

Wigan kicked off the game and started brightly with Nicky Eaden going close as early as the 9th minute when he sent a shot narrowily over the bar from the right hand edge of the area but that proved to one of only a few half chances during the game with much of the action seen in the middle of the park.

It wasn't until the 15th minute that City really threatened John Filan's goal with Sun Jihai laying a ball across the box after beating Peter Kennedy on the edge area but Ali Benarbia saw his effort blocked and behind for a corner by Jason De Vos.

City's defence was disrupted minutes later when Steve Howey hobbled from the field with a foot injury with Dutchman Gerard Wiekens, one of the few survivors of the play-off games in 1999, eventually coming on to replace the former Newcastle United defender.

Steve McMillan saw his shot from just outside the area deflected behind for a corner by Wiekens after the ball was cleared out to him from a long Jason De Vos throw in from the left with 21 minutes on the clock.

The resulting corner found Peter Kennedy on the far corner of the area and the Northern Ireland international's half volley brought everyone to the edge of their seats as it sailed just over the crossbar.

City's injury problems ahead of their derby day clash with United on Saturday were compounded in the 34th minute when Sylvain Distain left the field with a pulled hamstring to be replaced by Northern Ireland midfielder Kevin Horlock just as Wigan were about to take a free kick 5 yards from the left side of the City area.

Horlock took his place alongside his team mates on the penalty spot as the Liddell's free kick was floated over.

The ball was only half cleared by Wiekens and only as far as Tony Dinning with the Wigan midfielder cutting the ball through the centre of the visitor's defence to find NEIL ROBERTS lurking on the edge of the six yard box. The Welsh striker hit a first time ball past Richard Dunne and beyond the reach of City keeper Carlo Nash.

Andy Liddell's final contribution of the evening came in the 38th minute when he sent a long ball forward for Nathan Ellington to chase but it proved a little too much for the Wigan striker with Nash easily collecting ahead of him.

Liddell went to ground immediately after the pass and following attention from physio Alex Cribley the Wigan forward limped from the field to be replaced by Gary Teale.

The first half ended with Wigan earning a free kick 20 yards out after Marc-Vivien Foe had been booked for a clumsly challenge on Jason Jarrett but Ellington slipped as he took the kick and the ball flew straight into Nash's arms.

The second half started relatively slowly and the first real chance fell to Wigan in the the 49th minute with Jason Jarrett chipping a ball from the half way line over the top to find Gary Teale charging into the area but a well timed tackle from Sun Jihai denied the Scot as Neil Roberts waited on the edge of the six yard box.

Substitute Kevin Horlock became the second player to receive a yellow card with 50 minutes on the clock when he put in a late tackle on Matt Jackson just inside the Wigan half of the field.

Wigan were almost penalised in the 55th minute when a spot of confusion between John Filan and Steve McMillan almost allowed Anelka to steal in and the Frenchman doesn't need much of an invite but the Wigan keeper got his legs to the ball to clear but collided with McMillan who required attention for a knee injury and was later replaced by Paul Mitchell, a lifelong City fan who was rejected by them as a kid.

Wigan's favourite City player Shaun Goater was replaced in the 68th minute by Darren Huckerby who had scored 8 times in his previous 5 outings in this competition including 4 in their 6-0 rampage over Birmingham City in the Third Round last season, a game that featured Nicky Eaden in the Birmingham defence.

Matt Jackson went agonisingly close to doubling Wigan's lead in the 74th minute when he rattled the ball over the bar from 6 yards out after the ball had come through to him from a Peter Kennedy free kick out on the right wing.

Foe could have done better with his effort less than 2 minutes later when Anelka left the ball for him on the edge of the penalty area after Shaun Wright-Phillips had done all the hard work down the right to get the ball across but the Cameroon midfielder bungled his shot the wrong side of the upright.

John Filan was forced into his only real save of the game with little over 10 minutes of normal time remaining after City earned themselves a free kick 30 yards out for a foul on Horlock.

Ali Benarbia floated the ball over a crowded penalty area missing everybody but Filan needed to pull off a fine reaction save to turn behind the post for a corner as it bounced up just in front of him at the last second.

City then went close again from the corner flag with Wright-Phillips blasting inches over from the edge of the area.

As the game approached stoppage time City earned themselves their 10th corner kick of the night after Nicky Eaden had been forced to head behind from a Weikens ball into the area. Keeper Nash even came up for the kick which the visitors wasted.

Huckerby wasted a decent chance to level things deep into injury time when he collected the ball six yards from goal with only Filan to beat but his killer instinct in front of goal appeared to have been left back at home allowing both the Wigan keeper and Jason De Vos to dive in to block.

The final whistle brought an end to a memorable night for Wigan Athletic with hundreds of fans racing onto the pitch to celebrate their side's famous victory.

  • Manchester City
  • Carlo Nash
  • Sun Jihai
  • Steve Howey 19
  • Sylvain Distin 34
  • Richard Dunne
  • Shaun Wright-Phillips
  • Marc Vivien-Foe
  • Ali Benarbia
  • Niclas Jensen
  • Nicolas Anelka
  • Shaun Goater 68
  • Tim Flowers
  • Gerard Wiekens 19
  • Kevin Horlock 34
  • Vincent Matias Vuosu
  • Darren Huckerby 68
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