Benson sets off new Di Canio celebration
Swindon Town 2 Wigan Athletic 1: Striker sinks Wigan and has Italian manager dreaming of a plum draw
The County Ground
Sunday 08 January 2012
There was no celebratory touchline charge from Paolo Di Canio, but with arms held aloft as he punched the air, this time the colourful Swindon manager had every right to milk the applause.
It was typical Di Canio; he doesn't do quiet and he is making quite a noise after masterminding his Swindon side to a big FA Cup shock against the Premier League's Wigan yesterday.
It might not have been as dramatic as the late winner at Northampton on New Year's Eve that landed him in hot water with the Football Association, but this was just as significant as the Italian attempts to put League Two Swindon on the map. As a player he helped West Ham cause an upset by scoring the winner at Old Trafford 11 years ago. He was at it again here, even if his role was from the dugout.
But that role shouldn't be underestimated. He was cajoling and kicking every ball, and it was the new striker who Di Canio picked up from Charlton, Paul Benson, who scored the late winner that Wigan could have no complaints about.
Di Canio was in no mood to play down the result afterwards, saying: "It's the best moment of my career and a dream come true, we deserved to win. The only thing we did wrong was give away the penalty and we were shy inside the first 20 minutes. At half-time I believed that we could do it but the players believed more than me.
"Now they should put the players' names up in the stadium as a permanent reminder and a tribute to them as this will be something specialin years to come." Few inside the packed ground could argue this result, with Swindon making a mockery of the 53 places separating the two sides from start to finish. Yet once Swindon fell behind, having failed to capitalise on their promising start, that seemed hardly feasible.
Callum McManaman was going nowhere when he enticed Aden Flint into a reckless 35th minute tackle. Ben Watson, a super-sub for Wigan against Stoke last week but a starter this time, saw his spot-kick strike the post but McManaman was the first to react to slot home the rebound.
But few Swindon heads dropped, knowing they had already shown enough signs that they could hurt a new-look Wigan side that contained few Premier League regulars. Matt Ritchie, the stand-out player, crossed for Alan Connell to flick home a header just five minutes later.
It was the lift that the Swindon side needed and, after Ritchie had woefully fired over the crossbar on the hour mark, he atoned by firing in a shot that was turned into the net by substitute Benson with 76 minutes on the clock.
There was enough time for Wigan to mounted recovery, but that never looked likely to happen as Swindon easily held a late push to move into the fourth round for the first time in 16 years.
"I don't mind which Manchester side we play – United or City would do, and that's the draw I want," Ritchie said.
He said of the winning goal, "My shot was on target, but took a nick off Beno [Benson] and went it. We are all delighted."
Roberto Martinez, the Wigan manager, had no regrets at selecting a weakened team that was badly exposed on the day.
"We all want to win every game, but the Premier League is very important," he said. "These are exiting times for Swindon, they showed togetherness and good fighting spirit, which should be applauded."
Swindon (4-5-1): Foderingham; Caddis, Flint, McCormack, Kennedy; Connell (Magera 66), De Vita (Cibocchi 87), Smith, Ferry, Ritchie; Murray (Benson 46)
Wigan (4-5-1): Al Habsi; Boyce, Lopez, Caldwell, Mustoe; McArthur, Watson (Gomez 56), Thomas, Malone (Moses 77), McManaman (Sammon 90), Di Santo
Referee Peter Walton.
Man of the match Ritchie (Swindon).
Match rating 7/10.
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