McCulloch's late strike boosts Wigan

Stoke City 0 - Wigan Athletic 1
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Paul Jewell's fears that a second match in little more than 48 hours would be a test too far for his supposedly weary Wigan side were proved unfounded as the leaders of the Coca Cola Championship racked up their sixth consecutive victory at the Britannia Stadium.

Paul Jewell's fears that a second match in little more than 48 hours would be a test too far for his supposedly weary Wigan side were proved unfounded as the leaders of the Coca Cola Championship racked up their sixth consecutive victory at the Britannia Stadium.

It took them until the 87th minute to break down Stoke's defending and the authority with which they overcame Leeds at Elland Road on Sunday was certainly lacking. But, the points were settled by Lee McCulloch's strike from 25 yards, strengthening Wigan's grip on top place.

Stoke's eagerness to puncture the last unbeaten record in the four divisions saw Wigan's defence put under considerable pressure from the start. Inside the opening 10 minutes of the match, Chris Greenacre tested John Filan with a dipping volley before winger Darel Russell forced the Australian goalkeeper into action again.

The leaders survived the onlslaught test but Jimmy Bullard and Alan Mahon initially grasped the initiative in midfield for Stoke.

Wigan strikers Jason Roberts and Nathan Ellington had 21 goals between them this season but Stoke's central defensive partnership of Gerry Taggart and Michael Duberry were comfortable. Nonetheless, Wigan had the best chance to reach half-time in front, McCulloch shooting just wide.

After the interval, Roberts missed an opportunity when he headed a Bullard corner over the bar and Duberry foiled Ellington and Roberts with brave blocks.

It seemed the night would end goalless, however, until substitute Mike Flynn tapped Mahon's through ball into the path of McCulloch, who let fly from 25 yards with a shot that flew straight into the bottom corner.

Stoke City (4-4-2): De Goey; Thomas, Duberry, Taggart, Clarke; Russell, Brammer, Hill (Henry 26), Asaba (Williams 73); Akinbiyi, Greenacre. Substitutes not used: Simonsen (gk), Guppy, Neal.

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Filan; Wright, Jackson, Breckin, Baines; Graham, Bullard, Mahon, McCulloch; Roberts, Ellington. (Flynn 79) Substitutes not used: Mitchell (gk), McMillan, Walsh, Whalley.

Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe).

Comments