Wigan hold firm to deny revitalised Cardiff

Cardiff City 0 Wigan Athletic 0
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The Independent Football

Wigan maintained their impressive early-season form by thwarting an often-rampant Cardiff City side at Ninian Park last night.

Neat and tidy in midfield and resolute in defence, the Latics were happy to counter-attack, and with Ian Breckin and the captain, Matt Jackson, keeping a close eye on Robert Earnshaw, the First Division's top-scorer was given little opportunity to add to his 14-goal tally.

Having beaten Crewe 3-0 on Saturday to end a run of three successive defeats, Cardiff were up against the other side promoted from the Second Division last season. Just one defeat in nine games had left Wigan Athletic second only on goal difference to Sheffield United. Not surprisingly, Cardiff were unchanged while a head injury meant Wigan's Lee McCulloch was replaced by Stephen McMillan.

The Bluebirds made most of the early running with Peter Thorne being foiled by some brave goalkeeping by John Filan, then heading narrowly wide from Robert Earnshaw's cross in the 11th minute.

But Wigan competed well in midfield, with Jimmy Bullard keeping the visitors ticking over with an inventive and industrious display, and the Cardiff captain, Graham Kavanagh, had to work hard to set Thorne and Earnshaw free.

Kavanagh came closest to opening the scoring after Earnshaw was fouled on the edge of the box but his well struck free-kick deflected for a corner in the 27th minute.

As half-time approached, both sides had clear chances to take the lead. Andy Liddell miscued when Peter Kennedy's cross from the left reached him in the area and then Filan spread himself well to keep out Earnshaw's eight-yard shot.

Cardiff stepped up the pressure after the break with Kavanagh dominating the midfield and Rhys Weston and Richard Langley lending him constant support down the right.

But it was Wigan who spurned a wonderful opportunity to take the lead in the 53rd minute. A sublime pass by Bullard set Geoff Horsfield free but the striker shot wide.

After Langley had fired a low drive straight at Filan, Nathan Ellington, in a rare attack, almost put the Latics ahead but his shot from the left wing narrowly missed the far post.

Cardiff continued to control the game but they lacked the guile to unlock a well organised Wigan defence. With seven minutes left, Thorne shot over from about 10 yards, signalling the end of the home side's threat.

Cardiff City (4-4-2): Alexander; Weston, Vidmar, Gabbidon, Barker; Boland, Cavanagh, Langley, Bonner; Thorne, Earnshaw. Substitutes not used: Campbell, Collins, Croft, Prior, Margetson.

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Filan; Eaden, Jackson, Breckin, McMillan; Liddell (Teale, 64), Dinning, Bullard, Kennedy; Horsfield, Ellington (Roberts, 72). Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Walsh, Jarrett.

Referee: R Styles.