Andy Liddell bagged a brace as Wigan Athletic continued their 100% winning start to the season with a 2-0 victory over Notts County at Meadow Lane.



Liddell 64, 75

Paul Jewell made a few changes to the side that had beaten Bristol City the previous weekend at the JJB Stadium with Ian Breckin and Mike Flynn given their first starts for the club since their arrivals during the summer.

Peter Kennedy, who had injured his achilles on international duty for Northern Ireland during the week was absent and his place was taken by Steve McMillan who had recovered from an ankle injury.

Wigan hadn’t lost in the league to Notts County since April 1989 and the home side, undefeated in their opening three games, weren’t about to put a stop to that run that stretched over 10 games.

Two pieces of brilliance in the second half from last season’s leading marksman Andy Liddell gave Wigan a deserved victory and maintained their 100% start to the 2002/2003 campaign.

Bill Dearden’s men passed the ball around well in the opening half and could have taken the lead themselves had it not been for poor finishing and the bravery of Wigan keeper John Filan.

Andy Liddell had seen a powerful drive fly straight into the arms of County keeper Stuart Garden in the opening 10 minutes before Dutch defender Marcel Cas combined with Mark Stallard and the former Roosendaal player broke clear on goal but found Filan in fine form as the Wigan keeper narrowed the angle and blocked with his body at close range to deny him.

The Magpies probably edged it from then on with their passing game causing Wigan problems but nothing in the way of clear cut chances were created by either side for the next 20 minutes or so.

Wigan went close to taking an all important half time lead when Jason De Vos got his head on the end of a ball from Scott Green and Nathan Ellington nipped in to finish off the move but his effort went narrowily over Garden’s cross bar after 36 minutes.

The action went immediately up the other end of the field and should have taken the lead themselves when Cas, in acres of space, fired well wide of the mark when it seemed easier to score.

Steve McMillan then found Scott Green in the County area but the former Bolton man sent his header wide of Garden’s right hand post but Wigan’s best chance of the half fell to Nathan Ellington who crashed a header from a Green cross against the crossbar moments before Leeds official Mike Riley blew for half time.

Within 6 minutes of the restart Lee McCulloch was denied his third goal of the season by a fine save from Garden who pulled off a great reflex save to palm the ball behind after McCulloch looked to have grabbed the opener with a terrific volley from one of Mike Flynn’s long throw ins.

Wigan were starting to take control of the game now and took the lead just after the hour mark and boy what a goal it was!

Eliington had done well to break open the County defence before laying the ball off to ANDY LIDDELL on the edge of the box. The Scottish striker then proceeded to take the ball across the area and appeared to have taken one stride too many he turned and looped the ball over a helpless Garden and into the top far corner.

That lead was doubled 11 minutes later when Mike Flynn made an impressive run down the middle of the park before laying off to ANDY LIDDELL on the edge of the area and it was goal number three for the season as he took a quick look up before curling a fierce low shot into the bottom corner.

Wigan held onto the lead despite desperate attempts from the home side to claw their way back into the game. Twelve points from twelve cannot be sniffed at but Paul Jewell still refused to get carried away and believes his side have yet to play at their best. God help the opposition when they do then.

Referee: Mike Riley (Leeds)
Attendance: 6,302
12 Stuart Garden 1 John Filan
28 Danny Stone 4 Matt Jackson
2 Nick Fenton 5 Jason De Vos
27 Craig Ireland 6 Ian Breckin
11 Kevin Nicholson 3 Steve McMillan
24 Darren Caskey 14 Scott Green
7 Marcel Cas 12 Mike Flynn
14 Paul Bolland 16 Tony Dinning
3 Ian Baraclough 10 Lee McCulloch
9 Mark Stallard 7 Andy Liddell
10 Danny Allsopp 9 Nathan Ellington
1 Steve Mildenhall 33 Ryan Yeomans
18 Simon Ramsden 17 Ged Brannan
6 Ian Richardson 18 Jason Jarrett
21 Paul Heffernan 20 Gary Teale
13 Richard Liburd 8 Neil Roberts
56′ Player Off Danny Stone
Player On Simon Ramsden
64′     Goal Andy Liddell
74′ Player Off Ian Baraclough
Player On Richard Liburd
75′ Yellow card Darren Caskey    
75′     Goal Andy Liddell
76′     Player Off Nathan Ellington
Player On Neil Roberts
85′ Player Off Darren Caskey
Player On Paul Heffernan
85′     Player Off Mike Flynn
Player On Jason Jarrett
89′     Player Off Lee McCulloch
Player On Gary Teale