Wigan Athletic failed in their bid to climb to 12th place in Division Two at a bitterly cold JJB Stadium after what can only be described as a lacklustre display in the second half saw a 15th minute Andy Liddell goal cancelled out by a Notts County set piece with less than quarter of an hour remaining.


Liddell 15

Heffernan 76

Wigan were missing influential skipper Arjan De Zeeuw who served a one match suspension for his fifth yellow card of the season picked up at Northampton.

Also suspended were Tony Dinning, whose second dismissal of the season sees him out until Boxing Day, and Lee Ashcroft, who received a one match ban for also hitting the five caution mark when he was booked against Chesterfield.

However Paul Jewell welcomed back Steve McMillan and Pat McGibbon to the defence after the pair made successful recoveries from injury.

Notts County started the brighter of the two sides and after three minutes tested Derek Stillie with a shot from Ian Richardson just outside the area which the Wigan keeper had to make two attempts at collecting.

Ged Brannan was feet away from grabbing the opener as he lunged at the ball as it came over to the far post from the right in the 5th minute. Dalglish then had a crack from 25 yards out 2 minutes later but his effort didn’t prove much of a task for the Notts County keeper who easily gathered.

After 8 minutes Andy Liddell showed some neat ball skill as he managed to pushed the ball forward into space in the area for Simon Haworth to chase but unfortunately it was a bit too far for the Welsh striker to get to and was cleared to safety.

The ball went straight upfield and the visitors went close to taking the lead themselves as they hit Wigan on the break but luckily the Wigan defence recovered sufficiently to thwart County in their tracks.

Wigan took a deserved lead in the 15th minute but it took a defensive blunder from Ian Richardson to allow them in.

Simon Haworth rose to head the ball forward in the middle of the County half and what should have been a simple clearance for Richardson saw him mishit the ball which span into the path of ANDY LIDDELL who gratefully received it before running forward to slot the ball under the body of former Swindon Town keeper Steve Mildenhall who could only watch as the ball bobbled behind him and over the line for Liddell’s fourth of the season.

Two minutes later Haworth almost doubled the deficit when he glanced his header past the far post from a superb Peter Kennedy cross and then Kennedy himself stabbed a shot over the bar from just outside the area with 18 minutes gone.

Derek Stillie almost gifted County the equaliser just after the half hour mark when a poor clearance found James Quinn, currently on loan from First Division West Brom, but the Northern Ireland international’s shot from 30 yards out went well wide of the mark as Stillie raced back to his goal.

Peter Kennedy wasted a golden opportunity to give Wigan a bit of breathing space in the 39th minute when a cross into the area from Dalglish on the right wing fell to him in space in the middle of the box but the midfielder sidefooted it first time and sent it way over the bar.

Three minutes later Andy Liddell bullied his way through the defence and his appeal for a penalty fell on death ears as he hit the deck before the ball landed at the feet of Paul Dalglish outside the area but the Scot fired another ball over the bar and a minute later he was in action again as he raced to the right byeline but with players waiting in the middle of the area he fired straight at Mildenhall at the near post.

Loan signing Paul Cook step up Haworth as the first half drew to a close when his free kick found the Wigan number nine sneaking in behind the County defence but the Welsh striker mistimed his shot and another chance went begging.

Wigan proved how much of a Jeckyll and Hyde side they can be and seemed to lose interest in the game altogether as the Meadow Lane side had the better of a drab second half altough they create little in the way of goalscoring opportunities.

Just after the hour mark former Manchester City striker Danny Allsopp tested Derek Stillie with a fierce shot from the right had side of the box but they found the equaliser 12 minutes later when they caught the Wigan rearguard napping

Former Reading midfielder Darren Caskey, a half time replacement for Danny Stone, hit a low ball from a free kick after James Quinn was fouled on the left hand edge of the penalty area and PAUL HEFFERNAN appeared from nowhere at the far post to head past a stationary Stillie.

The result moves Wigan above Bournemouth into 16th in Division Two and with difficult trips to Oldham and Reading coming up over the next two weeks they’ll need to shape themselves up if they have any hope of pushing for a play-off spot.

Referee: Graham Frankland (Middlesbrough)
Attendance: 3,827
16 Derek Stillie 1 Steve Mildenhall
4 Pat McGibbon 28 Danny Stone
5 Steve McMillan 2 Nick Fenton
23 Matt Jackson 6 Ian Richardson
14 Scott Green 3 Ian Baraclough
24 Paul Cook 11 Kevin Nicholson
20 Ged Brannan 14 Paul Bolland
31 Paul Dalglish 15 Michael Brough
22 Peter Kennedy 21 Paul Heffernan
7 Andy Liddell 16 James Quinn
9 Simon Haworth 10 Danny Allsopp
33 Scott Tynan 12 Stuart Garden
8 Ian Nolan 17 Richard Holmes
15 Paul Mitchell 24 Darren Caskey
11 Lee McCulloch 26 Tony Hackworth
12 Neil Roberts 30 Paul Riley
15′ Goal Andy Liddell    
46′     Player Off Danny Stone
Player On Darren Caskey
66′ Yellow card Scott Green    
67′ Player Off Scott Green
Player On Paul Mitchell
76′     Goal Paul Heffernan
82′ Yellow card Andy Liddell    
89′     Yellow card Darren Caskey
89′     Player Off Kevin Nicholson
Player On Paul Riley

Player Off Simon Haworth
Player On Lee McCulloch