Wigan Athletic came to Highfield Road courtesy of emphatic victories over Carlisle and Hartlepool in previous rounds but this Third Round tie would be a much harder task to say the least. Wigan were sitting in 17th place in Division Three, whilst Coventry were doing their annual hover above the relegation zone in Division One.

FA CUP THIRD ROUND – HIGHFIELD ROAD – Saturday 5th January 1991

Gynn 66

Patterson 90

Included in the Coventry City line up were stars of the calibre of the legendary Cyril Regis and Scottish international Kevin Gallacher, who is currently plying his trade at Newcastle.

Wigan did have a couple future Premiership stars in their ranks with Peter Atherton who Coventry went on to sign seven months later before he moved onto Sheffield Wednesday, Bradford City and now on loan at Birmingham and Joe Parkinson whose career has been cruelly cut short due to injury after a successful spell at Everton.

Latics kicked off the game and immediately went on the attack with winger Ray Woods racing past three Coventry players down the line before passing across to striker Don Page but Woods’ pass was an anticlimax to his run down the flank as it went nowhere near it’s intended destination and went out for a throw in.

Moments later Woods was in the thick of things again when he got the better of defender Paul Edwards down on the Coventry touch line but was immediately swamped by Edwards’ fellow defenders and after a great deal of effort, with the lively Woods causing them all sorts of problems, they managed to dispossess him and clear the ball to safety.

33 year old former Liverpool forward David ‘Supersub’ Fairclough raced onto a dodgy backpass in the fifth minute forcing City keeper Steve Ogrizovic to leave his area to clear.

The home side were struggling to find their composure in the early minutes of the game and the first chance on goal of any note was sent wayward by Brian Borrows, mishitting a cross and sending it out for a goal-kick.

Coventry managed to find their feet and forced the first corner of the game. The wind carried Micky Gynn’s inswinger forcing Wigan’s on loan keeper Tony Pennock (now of Yeovil Town) to back peddle, only just managing to get a grip of the ball as it threatened to go straight in. The Coventry players protested that the ball had in fact crossed the line as Pennock went down holding the ball but the referee waved play on.

Coventry stepped up the pace and in the 10th minute Kevin Drinkell set up midfielder Micky Gynn whose shot should have caused Pennock no problem but the keeper only managed to collect it at the second attempt.

Gynn tested the Wigan keeper again moments later after Kevin Gallacher broke clear on the edge of the area and set up the grateful Gynn but his shot was comfortably kept out by the on loan Stockport County keeper.

It was all happening for Coventry by now and the wind wasn’t helping Wigan’s cause very much either. Pennock was one of the busiest players on the pitch and it was only the 12th minute when he was yet again called upon to save Wigan’s bacon. Trevor Peake got into space inside the penalty area to collect a throw in from Paul Edwards and Pennock was on hand to block the shot with his legs.

Wigan’s danger man was definitely former Colne Dynamoes striker Ray Woods who troubled Coventry every time he got the ball. However his crosses from the right wing were getting no further than the home side’s defence who continued to clear their lines effectively.

The wind that was now blowing across the length of the Highfield Road pitch was becoming a problem for Coventry as well as Ogrizovic’s kicks from goal were continually ended up straight to Pennock at the other end.

Wigan had their best chance of the half in the 20th minute when Peter Billing’s rattled the ball at David Fairclough in an attempt to clear with the loose ball landing at the feet of Wigan’s Don Page who took the ball past Coventry captain Trevor Peake but as the former Runcorn and Stafford Rangers striker lined up his shot Peake had caught up to block.

Within a minute, following a decent passing move, Coventry’s leading goalscorer on 9 goals, Kevin Gallacher found himself in plenty of space well inside the Wigan half but a very well timed tackle by 20 year old Peter Atherton thwarted the Scot as he seemed well on his way to opening the score.

In the 24th minute Wigan were awarded a free kick after Billing, who should have got a yellow, brought down Page with a nasty tackle from behind. Bryan Griffiths received the ball out left from the resulting kick and stole inside Billing but his shot found the side netting with Ogrizovic covering the post.

It was Wigan’s turn to turn up the heat and within a minute were awarded another free kick following a clumsy tackle from David Smith on Fairclough just outside the area but the momentum was lost when they wasted the free kick, allowing Cyril Regis to take the ball out of the area unchallenged and to safety.

Regis collected a long kick from his keeper on the half hour and outran the Wigan defence before squaring the ball over to Drinkell who fired narrowily wide of the upright from close range.

Wigan conceded a corner after Allan Tankard was forced to head out a cross from Peake. Smith’s flag kick was swung towards the far post and Pennock did well to tip over as the wind again threatened to blow the ball straight in from the kick.

The second kick taken, this time by Michael Gynn from the opposite corner, was yet again assisted by the inclement weather and found Gallacher who headed goalwards, the ball hitting Pennock’s knees, rebounding straight at Drinkell and out for a goal kick.

Ray Woods was again showing the skill that later took him to Coventry when he raced down his left line to put in a cross to the centre but as before it just found a Coventry defender, this time Dean Emerson, who cleared the danger.

Coventry managed to get the ball past Pennock and into the net on 41 minutes when Gynn collected the ball in midfield, raced forward leaving two Wigan defenders in his wake and chipped the ball over Pennock and into the back of an empty net. Gynn turned to the crowd in celebration only to see the linesman’s flag raised for offiside.

HALF TIME: Coventry 0 Wigan 0

Within a minute of the restart Wigan went agonisingly close to taking the lead as David Fairclough unleashed his unmarked skipper Neill Rimmer with a defence splitting ball, the 23 year old midfielder, raced forward and should have done a lot better as he dragged his shot wide of the post.

Wigan’s Kevin Langley fired over the bar from outside the area before the home side kicked back into life and on 55 minutes Edwards laid on Gallacher who ran across the face of the Wigan defence, took it inside the area and flicked the ball goalwards for what surely looked liked his 10th goal of the season but from out of nowhere Allan Tankard cleared the danger.

At the other end Wigan earned themselves a corner which was taken by Bryan Griffiths. Michael Gynn headed clear but only as far as Tankard who hit it first time with his right boot sending the ball narrowily over the bar.

Wigan could sniff an upset was on the cards and were playing confidently and definitely not in awe of their opponent’s superior league position. Ray Woods ran across the edge of the penalty area before cracking a low shot at goal which Ogrizovic was very happy to see bobble past his post himself beaten.

Wigan fell behind to a set piece move on 66 minutes when City were awarded a free kick for a Peter Atherton foul on Cyril Regis five yards outside of the area. Kevin Gallacher slid the ball to Regis who rolled it perfectly into the path of MICHAEL GYNN and the midfielder made no mistake in cracking it home past Pennock from 7 yards out.

Three minutes later Wigan took off Bryan Griffiths and replaced him with Jimmy Carberry who almost immediately put Wigan in danger as he attempted to find his keeper but instead gifted the home side a corner.

Gynn’s corner was cleared behind for another as Regis threatened to nod home and the second kick found Kevin Drinkell who thought his downwards header had crossed the line but the Liverpool referee had merely blown for a foul on Pennock.

Drinkell could have settled matters for the Sky Blues with eight minutes remaining when he got on the end of a cross from Gallacher but his header went straight at the Wigan keeper.

A minute later the tired legs of veteran striker David Fairclough were given a rest and on came the fresh legs of 21 year old Darren Patterson.

With seconds ticking away Wigan pulled out an equaliser from nowhere. Woods, who had been a constant threat, made another one of his crosses from the right, but this time DARREN PATTERSON was there, almost unchallenged, to nod past Ogrizovic.

The goal prompted the Wigan fans, tucked away to the right of that goal, to swarm onto the pitch in mass celebration. Play was eventually resumed but the referee blew within seconds of the restart to give Wigan another bite at the cherry.

Referee: Colin Trussell (Blundellsands, Liverpool)
Attendance: 10,802
1 Steve Ogrizovic 1 Tony Pennock
2 Brian Borrows 2 Joe Parkinson
3 Paul Edwards 3 Allan Tankard
4 Dean Emerson 4 Peter Atherton
5 Peter Billing 5 Alan Johnson
6 Trevor Peake 6 Kevin Langley
7 Kevin Gallacher 7 Ray Woods
8 Micky Gynn 8 Neill Rimmer
9 Cyril Regis 9 David Fairclough
10 Kevin Drinkell 10 Don Page
11 David Smith 11 Bryan Griffiths
12 Kevin MacDonald 12 Darren Patterson
14 Steve Livingstone 14 Jimmy Carberry
66′ Goal Micky Gynn    

Player Off Bryan Griffiths
Player On Jimmy Carberry

83′     Player Off David Fairclough
Player On Darren Patterson
89′ Player Off Dean Emerson
Player On Kevin MacDonald


90′     Goal Darren Patterson