Prolific Ellington puts Leeds in their place

Wigan Athletic 3 - Leeds United 0
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The Independent Football

Kevin Blackwell was not necessarily the most worried manager at the JJB Stadium. This clinical dismantling of his Leeds United side also made uncomfortable viewing for Joe Royle.

Kevin Blackwell was not necessarily the most worried manager at the JJB Stadium. This clinical dismantling of his Leeds United side also made uncomfortable viewing for Joe Royle.

The watching Ipswich Town manager not only saw his team's lead at the top cut to three points, he also witnessed a performance that made Wigan Athletic appear the genuine promotion article. If the game had been won by six or seven goals it would not have told a misleading story, because that is how wide the gulf was in terms of chances.

Leeds, tempted to harbour play-off hopes of their own following only two defeats in 12 Championship games, were hugely fortunate to be only one down at the interval, and had a thoroughly trying day. Their dark mood was reflected in a fierce tirade from Sean Gregan at team-mate Gary Kelly and some half-time finger-pointing by their goalkeeper, Neil Sullivan, at Jermaine Wright that had police moving in to ensure order was maintained. Blackwell interpreted the flashpoints as proof his players remained fired up, but this day was all about Wigan.

So contrasting are these clubs' histories that they had never met in the League before this season. And the novelty of the fixture helped prompt a 5,000-plus exodus across the Pennines and Wigan's biggest crowd of the season.

It was barely a contest, though, as the lack of pace throughout the Leeds side was ruthlessly exposed on a bobbly, overused surface. Nathan Ellington accepted the first of the chances that went Wigan's way when he steered home Gary Teale's 10th-minute right-wing centre. Then a multitude of opportunities were squandered as Sullivan produced excellent stops from Jason Roberts and Jimmy Bullard, while Roberts and Lee McCulloch finished tamely.

"We started well and got better," said the Wigan manager, Paul Jewell. "The only worry is that we had only scored one by half-time, but we dominated the second half as well.

"It was our best performance of the season. It was a pressure game, but some of our play was truly outstanding."

Leeds barely raised a goal attempt, their only possible grievances being an unanswered penalty appeal by Rob Hulse just after the interval and a fortunate second goal for the home side.

Bullard's 56th-minute corner from the right was headed powerfully goalwards by Matt Jackson, but the ball deflected off both Clarke Carlisle and Roberts on its way in. Roberts, who is likely to be credited with his 16th goal of the season, then hit the foot of the post just before Alan Mahon lashed in number three from 25 yards.

Wigan now face two away games in the space of three days, but their horizon is much brighter than that of Leeds.

"Wigan were better than us, and deserved to win," Blackwell said. "It's hard to say that, but we're very disappointed with the way we played. Wigan were a cut above us but, six months ago, we wouldn't have had a team to play them."

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