HomeMatch Reports2003-2004 - Wigan Athletic 1 Ipswich Town 0

Nationwide League Division One - Tuesday 26th August 2003

Wigan Athletic
Nathan Ellington 57
Wigan Athletic
Ipswich Town
Ipswich Town
Venue: JJB Stadium
Referee: Trevor Parkes (Birmingham)
Attendance: 8,292

Report by: John Patrick Heeley

"We deserve to be in Division One" proclaimed Wigan manager Paul Jewell after seeing his side outplay Ipswich Town at the JJB Stadium in the first ever league meeting between the two sides.

The Tractor Boys, who had been a Premier League side less than 18 months ago, are rated as one of the sides most likely to win a place in the top flight come May and only just missed out on the play-offs last season, but Latics showed that they mean business themselves with a convincing display that saw them move to 9th place in Division One, the highest ever in their relatively short history.

Missing from the team sheet was Lee McCulloch who'd aggravated his hamstring during the weekend win at Burnley but Nathan Ellington made his first start since mid April to partner Neil Roberts in attack and Mark Burchill dropped to the bench.

Despite the three points, Jewell hadn't exactly been happy with the performance his lads gave at Turf Moor, believing that they could play much better and I believe they did just that tonight at the JJB Stadium with one of the best displays of football seen by a Wigan side for many a year.

Ipswich to their credit passed the ball around well and could turn a Wigan attack on its head, four or five slick touches and they were up the other end. However a mix of poor finishing and bad luck denied the visitors any hope of getting anything from this game.

As it was Wigan were fully deserved of the win, their first at home at in Division One, and if they can maintain the spirit in which they underwent their task in hand against Joe Royle's men it should be a highly entertaining if not successful season at the JJB.

Wigan could have won by more if it hadn't been for former Luton and Wimbledon keeper Kelvin Davis. The shotstopper, who received his marching orders in a 4-0 Luton defeat at the hands of Wigan 4½ years ago, made a number of fine saves to keep the home side at bay.

Ian Breckin, who continues to impress since stepping in for the injured De Vos, was denied when Davis dove to push away his header from a Jimmy Bullard corner and moments later Bullard himself saw his fierce shot from outside the area blocked by the keeper

Davis was in action again 8 minutes later, this time Ellington testing his resolve with a tricky curling effort, but the Ipswich number one was again upto the task with another excellent save.

Wigan were on fire and within minutes Dutch defender Fabian Wilnis became Ipswich's saviour when he cleared an effort from Neil Roberts off the line.

Latics did have the ball in the back of the net with 10 minutes of the opening half remaining but the linesman's flag for offside put short shrift to the celebrations after Andy Liddell had prodded the ball over the line from close range at the far post following Nicky Eaden's excellent ball across the face of goal from the right wing.

Joe Royle introduced former Celta Vigo striker Pablo Counago to the game after the break at the expense of Darren Bent and the Spaniard seemed to be just what Ipswich had been lacking in the first half in which they'd only made one real threat on the Wigan goal, a Darren Bent header which went narrowily wide of the mark.

Counago's contribution to the game almost led to the visitors taking the lead when he nodded the ball on for Jermaine Wright but fortunately for Wigan the midfielder sent his shot wide.

Wigan took a deserved lead five minutes later when Andy Liddell headed a McMillan cross into the danger zone. Jason Jarrett controlled it but his shot lacked power.

NATHAN ELLINGTON then picked up the loose ball and sent home a shot which took a deflection off an Ipswich defender before finding its way into the back of the net for his second goal in as many games.

Ipswich went agonisingly close to levelling three minutes later when Counago rounded John Filan down the left side of the area before delivering a low angled shot goalbound only for Ian Breckin to earn his wages by clearing off the line with an outstretched boot at the expense of a corner.

Filan then denied the Spaniard his first goal of the campaign with only five minutes remaining after Marcus Bent had nodded a Wilnis free kick into his path but the Wigan keeper stood tall and pushed away the Spaniards' point blank range shot.

On loan Wigan striker Mark Burchill almost got his first goal for the club with 2 minutes of normal time remaining when he ran through on goal before delivering a sweet shot from 15 yards out but found Davis in no mood for another breach of his goal line.

The final whistle not only signalled Wigan's first ever win in this division in front of their home fans but also brought a standing ovation from them as the players left the field - and thoroughly deserved it was as well.

  • Ipswich Town
  • Kelvin Davies
  • Fabian Wilnis
  • Chris Makin
  • Drissa Diallo
  • Jim Magilton
  • Jermaine Wright
  • Matthew Wright 64
  • Tommy Miller 72
  • Richard Naylor
  • Marcus Bent
  • Darren Bent 46
  • Lewis Price
  • Ian Westlake 72
  • Pablo Counago 46
  • Dean Bowditch 64
  • George Santos
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