Paul Jewell’s side took an early lead through Lee McCulloch’s second goal in three days but it wasn’t until their opponents went down to nine men in the final 10 minutes that they stepped up a gear and finished off them off, using the extra space allowed them to their advantage.
Notts County were reduced to 10 men seconds after the restart when club captain Ian Baraclough was given a straight red from stamping on Gary Teale after the pair had tangled down the right touchline and were further stretched as the game apprioached the final 10 minutes when substitute Ian Richardson landed heavily on his shoulder and was stretchered off with no more replacements available for the home side.
Wigan manager Paul Jewell was more than critical of his side after the final whistle for not capitalising on their numerical advantage and even admitted that at one point believed they were actually in danger of losing the match.
The conditions at Meadow Lane were not exactly favourable for a good game of football with heavy rain and a strong wind sweeping across the ground for the full 90 minutes.
Wigan’s lead came in the 15th minute with the first real chance of the game when Gary Croft, playing his last game for the club, sent a cross into the area which was cleared badly by County’s Craig Ireland allowing LEE MCCULLOCH the chance to hit a shot on the turn past Stuart Garden in the home goal from 10 yards or so.
Apart from McCulloch’s 6th goal of the season the rest of the first half was pretty subdued and Wigan keeper John Filan was more or less a bystander for the opening exchanges.
The game certainly livened up after the break especially with the dismissal of Baraclough but it was 10 men Notts County that played the better for the early part of the second half and were rewarded with an equaliser just after the hour mark.
Former Manchester City striker Danny Allsopp sent a ball into the area finding IAN RICHARDSON, who had been on the field a little over 5 minutes as a replacement for Darren Caskey, and the substitute looked up and picked his spot in the far top corner from just inside the area.
Latics saw a Jason De Vos header sail narrowly wide of the post when he got on the end of a Ged Brannan free kick and Gary Teale caused the County defence more than a few problems with his pacey runs forward.
However the home side somehow soaked up everything thrown at them and caused their visitors a few scares of their own but the game was turned completely on it’s head with 13 minutes remaining on the electronic scoreboard.
Goalscorers Ian Richardson and Lee McCulloch both rose to challenge for the ball but the County player came down heavily on his shoulder, apparently dislocating it, and after attention from the physio was stretchered from the field.
County manager Bill Dearden had already used up all three of his allowed substitutions, including Richardson himself, and was therefore forced to play out the remainder of the game two players shy.
It didn’t take Wigan long to use this to their benefit minutes later they retook the lead through GARY TEALE who collected the ball down the right flank from fellow Scot Paul Dalglish and the £275,000 signing from Ayr United raced forward before unleashing a low shot beyond Garden and in at the far corner for his first ever goal in a Wigan shirt.
Somehow Wigan allowed the decimated County side to almost level matters as the game entered it’s four minutes of stoppage time when Paul Heffernan, scorer of the Magpies’ equaliser at the JJB Stadium in mid December, forced Filan into action with his header tipped over the bar by the Australian keeper as it threatened to sneak in under the woodwork.
However second bottom Notts County were finished off almost immediately when PAUL DALGLISH was sent clear on goal by Steve McMillan and the midfielder coolly slotted a low shot in by the near post.
The result moved Wigan up two places to thirteenth leapfrogging Swindon and Colchester who weren’t in action but a play-off spot still appears to be a tad too distant for Jewell’s men.