Football: Darlington wearily walking the plank: Phil Andrews sees the League's bottom club defeated 2-0 at Wigan

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NOTHING concentrates the mind like the prospect of imminent loss, but these sides, who fill two of the bottom three places in the Third Division, do not yet look desperate.

Darlington, perched perilously on the Football League's trap door and Wigan, two places above them, went through a surprisingly bloodless encounter which left the Quakers looking likely to become the first club to be relegated from the League twice.

If it provided little in the way of good football it did, at least, offer ample evidence of why these two sides are in this predicament in the first place. Good intentions too often foundered because the skills were not there.

Wigan's goals were both the products of defensive errors. Their unmarked and aptly named captain, Peter Skipper, a former Darlington player, broke the deadlock early in the second half, heading in Dave McKearney's cross through goalkeeper Darren Collier's hands. Andy Lyons wrapped it up eight minutes from time, side-footing into an empty net after Collier had failed to intercept his over-hit first touch.

Relief might have come sooner had Peter Thorne, on loan from Blackburn Rovers, been as sharp as his name suggested instead of wasting four good first-half chances.

Darlington, who spent the 1989/90 season in the GM Vauxhall Conference, seemed unperturbed by the prospect of repeating the experience, and displayed none of the urgency their plight seemed to demand.

A couple of long-range efforts from the former Middlesbrough striker Bernie Slaven and a shot on the turn by the substitute, Simon Shaw, which skimmed the bar was the closest they came to leaving a mark on the match.

Goals: Skipper (1-0) 48; Lyons (2-0) 82.

Wigan Athletic (5-2-3): Farnworth; Carragher, Strong, Skipper, Robertson, McKearney; Kilford, Rimmer; Morton, Thorne (Furlong, 44; Duffy, 78), Lyons. Substitute not used: Pennock (gk).

Darlington (4-4-2): Collier; Reed, Crosby, O'Shaughnessy, Switzer (Gregon, 81); Chapman, Gaughan, Painter, Ball; Slaven, Ellison (Shaw, 62). Substitute not used: Swann (gk).

Referee: B Coddington (Sheffield).