Two reports from the Wigan game:
For report by Rob Wheldon, click here.
For report by Martin Shaw, read below.
Mansfield Town 1 Wigan Athletic 2
Christie 50. Ellington 39, Liddell 43.
Att. 5,524 (439 from Wigan)
by Martin Shaw at Field Mill
Stags put up a brave display but lost to runaway leaders Wigan at Field Mill last night. The visitors were simply superb on the counter attack and cut open the Stags defence on several occasions. Whilst the Stags could have nicked a point, and will argue that the first Wigan goal was clearly offside, there is no denying that the visitors deserved the three points.
There was a surprise in the Stags line up as Hassell returned from injury to replace Jamie Clarke. Clarke reported in sick and so was not even on the bench. With Curle still not fit, Gadsby kept his place, while Christie returned from suspension in place of Beardsley. Williamson returned from suspension to the bench alongside four youth team players.
In very windy conditions, the game never settled into much of a pattern, but the early signs were that Wigan were lethal on the counter attack. Stags had a few lucky escapes, and Pilkington often had to be at his best, but at the other end Christie came within a whisker of opening the scoring. He showed great control to surge into the box and fired powerfully from 10 yards. Unfortunately his shot was inches wide and smacked into the stanchion at the back of the net, as some fans thought it had gone in. Then after a scramble in the box following a corner, Curtis shot just over from 18 yards, and Christie's shot brought a low save from the Wigan keeper.
But on 39 minutes Wigan broke the deadlock. A ball was slotted through from the halfway line for Ellington to break clear of the defence. At the time, he looked a yard offside to me. TV pictures on Tuesday night after the game on Sky Sports News were inconclusive as the camera angle from the centre of the Bishop Street stand was not ideal. But the pictures from Yorkshire TV shown on Wednesday, with the camera nearer the North Stand end, showed that Ellington was indeed a yard offside. Ellington made no mistake racing forward, rounding Pilkington and scoring onto an empty net.
Within 4 minutes Wigan were two ahead with what seemed to be a killer blow. The dangerous Teale broke down the left and with several players unmarked in the middle, played a ball inside which Liddell nipped onto, to tip the ball past Pilkington and then into another empty net. It seemed to me that Pilkington could have reached the ball had he come for it.
At half time, it seemed all over. But 5 minutes into the second half Stags got a lifeline. Andy White made a great run down the right and played a perfect ball into the middle, where Christie controlled the ball and was just about to shoot from 4 yards, when Wigan defender Jackson toe-poked the ball into his own net. The goal has been credited to Christie but it seemed a clear own goal to me at the time, and whilst the Sky Sports News TV pictures were inconclusive, watching the Yorkshire TV pictures frame by frame shows that it was indeed tucked home by the defender. A stroke of luck for Christie to give him his 16th goal of the season, but luck is probably not the right word as he was to limp off injured later on and may be out for a couple of weeks.
Wigan continued to create chances and Stags looked a bit toothless after Andy White had been taken off and then Christie limped off, as Stags were left with a forward line of Mitchell and Beardsley. Hardly a match for Ellington and Liddell. Both show great promise but are too inexperienced a pairing.
Stags best chance came from a Doane free kick which was just over, while Lawrence went down under a challenge in the area, but no penalty was given, much to Lawrence's anger.
Overall this was a decent display from the Stags against a fantastic Wigan side. The loss of Christie for crucial games coming up could prove very costly.
Man of the Match: Pilkington.
Pilkington 7 Some terrific saves, though may have done better on the second goal; again showed some terrible kicking in the second half.
Hassell 6 Fantastic to have the great man back, but he looked a little rusty.
Gadsby 7 Dealt fairly well with the excellent Wigan strikeforce.
Day 7 Still looks a good buy.
Doane 6 Did ok at left back.
Lawrence 7 Still in good form, as he has been for months.
Curtis 6 Did ok in a defensive midfield role.
Disley 6 Not quite the high-octane performance we would have hoped for.
Corden 6 Couldn't produce his magic.
Christie 7 Caused the defence some problems. Terrible to see him limping off.
AWhite 6 Did ok, though lost the ball on a few occasions. Did really well to set up the Stags goal. Absurdly booed as he was taken off by a few morons.
Mitchell (for AWhite, 62 mins) 6 Worked hard.
Beardsley (for Christie, 70) 6 Didn't really get into the game.
Williamson (for Curtis, 74) 6 Lucky not to be red-carded for a crazy challenge. Needs to behave more responsibly.
Subs not used: JWhite, Baptiste.
Latest | January 2003