HomeMatch Reports2002-2003 - Wigan Athletic 1 Barnsley 0

Nationwide League Division Two - Saturday 3rd May 2003

Wigan Athletic
Tony Dinning 13
Wigan Athletic
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: JJB Stadium
Referee: Grant Hegley (Hertfordshire)
Attendance: 12,537

Report by: John Patrick Heeley

Arguably Wigan's biggest home league following since they entered the Football League almost 25 years ago turned out to witness a little piece of history being made with the Division Two championship trophy presented to the team on the pitch immediately after this game against Barnsley.

Grown men were seen to wipe a tear or two away as they saw their heroes go up two by two to receive their medals and then finally Jason De Vos march proudly across to the podium alongside his manager Paul Jewell to lift the trophy itself.

The weather itself could have been better but it failed to dampen the spirits of the 11,000+ Wigan Athletic fans who had turned up at the stadium to cheer their boys on.

The game itself saw a Tony Dinning goal after 12 minutes prove enough to see off Barnsley, who were paying their first ever visit to to the JJB Stadium, and ensure that Latics reach the 100 point milestone, with only Fulham total of 101 in the 2000/01 season actually bettering that tally in the Second Division.

Barnsley had secured their Division Two safety with an injury time winner against Brentford the previous weekend but weren't going to be cannon fodder for the table toppers and had actually been told to go out and be party poopers, it wasn't to be however.

The visitors, like Wigan, had injury problems and arrived in Wigan with somewhat of a makeshift side however leading scorer Bruce Dyer returned to the side after 3 games out with a calf strain.

Paul Jewell named an unchanged side to the one that had earned a draw at Ninian Park 7 days earlier with a very youthful looking bench to say the least, Welsh midfielder Mike Flynn a veritable oldie at 22 years of age.

The game started brightly with bith sides having chances on goal and it was the visitors who had the first real attempt at opening the scoring when Bruce Dyer forced Filan into a save in the 4th minute.

Wigan replied with a Jimmy Bullard effort which was blocked away by a Barnsley defender and Lee McCulloch then saw a header fly over the crossbar as Wigan started to get a grip on proceedings.

With 6 minutes on the clock Gary Teale sent his shot from the edge of the penalty area narrowly wide of the upright but 6 minutes later Wigan took the lead through TONY DINNING who fired a low shot home from the edge of the box after good build up play down the left.

Bullard set up Roberts in the 19th minute but the Welsh striker's header was cleared by the defence and a minute later McCulloch was unlucky not to have doubled the Wigan lead with his effort well saved by Matthew Ghent in the Barnsley goal.

John Filan made a fine save in the 22nd minute to deny Kevin Betsy with Matt Jackson on hand to clear the loose ball and moments later the Aussie shotstopper was again called upon as once more Betsy threatened the Wigan goal.

Dinning's attempt in the 28th minute flew just wide of the mark and at the other end of the field Bruce Dyer played the ball through to Betsy who lost his marker but his shot flew well wide of Filan's post.

Filan did well to keep out Betsy with just over 3 minutes of normal time remaining when the Barnsley striker had been put through by young academy midfielder Nicholas Wroe, the Wigan keeper getting down low to save.

Betsy then saw another shot driven away by the Wigan defence in time added on.

A Peter Kennedy left wing centre 2 minutes into the second half found Neil Roberts but the Wigan number 8 saw his ambitious volley go the wrong side of the upright.

The Wigan defence stood firm to deny Dyer in the 54th minute, blocking his shot on the line with Filan seemingly beaten and 4 minutes later Roberts' low drive cracked the bottom of the post at the opposite end.

Midfielder Mitch Ward blazed one over the bar and high into the stand on the hour mark and Teale went close minutes later as the action again switched to the other end of the pitch.

Peter Kennedy then forced Ghent into a fine save from 10 yards out and Lee McCulloch fired over the bar moments later after Teale had supplied the ball from the right flank. Ghent was in action again in the 73rd minute, forcing another Roberts volley over his bar.

The final whistle signalled the start of the celebrations in earnest although many had been celebrating for quite a while now however these scenes certainly brought a lump to the throat.

  • Barnsley
  • Matthew Ghent
  • Neil Austin
  • Robbie Williams
  • Chris Morgan
  • Antony Kay
  • Kevin Donovan
  • Nicky Wroe
  • Kevin Betsy
  • Dean Gorre 70
  • Mitch Ward
  • Bruce Dyer 85
  • Craig Parry
  • Brian O'Callaghan
  • Leo Bertos
  • Isiah Rankin 85
  • Rory Fallon 70
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