Wigan left deflated by Ellington's absence

Wigan Athletic 0 - Plymouth Argyle 2
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The Independent Online

It is indicative of the nature of the Championship that a mid-table side should win away to the leaders with as much comfort as Plymouth Argyle did at the JJB Stadium on Saturday.

It is indicative of the nature of the Championship that a mid-table side should win away to the leaders with as much comfort as Plymouth Argyle did at the JJB Stadium on Saturday.

Wigan Athletic, unbeaten in 17 games and looking to complete a seventh successive victory, never looked like extending either sequence from the moment Paul Wotton's free-kick was deflected beyond John Filan shortly before half-time.

There were, of course, extenuating circumstances. For one, Wigan were without their 11-goal leading scorer Nathan Ellington, absent with a rib injury. Perhaps just as significantly, they also lost the underrated Lee McCulloch in the early stages after he came off worse in a 50-50 challenge with the energetic David Friio.

Those factors were enough, on the day, to transform a team who had conceded fewer and scored more goals than anyone else in the division into easy pickings for Plymouth - competent and durable but unlikely to be playing in the Premiership themselves next season.

Like most of their rivals, Wigan have little strength in depth. In a 46-game Championship season that is akin to an endurance test, it is the sides managing to accumulate points even when their team is under-strength that will finish at the top.

"If nothing else, this will at least stop people coming out with ridiculous statements about how we're going to run away with this League," said Paul Jewell, the Wigan manager.

"The run was always going to end at some stage and I can hardly fault the players for losing one game in 18. It's a question of getting another run going now, starting next week."

All of which is to take nothing away from Plymouth. From a cautious start they improved as the game went on. Lifted by the first goal, the Pilgrims' counter-attacks increased in potency and Stevie Crawford added a second midway through the second half.

"It was hard work but a very satisfying victory," said Bobby Williamson, the Plymouth manager. "We came with a plan and wanted to catch them on the counter attack and it worked well."

Goals: Wotton (40) 0-1; Crawford (69) 0-2. Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Filan; Wright, Jackson, Breckin, Baines; Teale (Flynn, 70), Bullard, Mahon, McCulloch (McMillan, 28; Eaden, 70); Roberts, Graham. Substitutes not used: Walsh (gk), Whalley

Plymouth Argyle (4-1-4-1): Larrieu; Worrell, Doumbe, Coughlan, Gilbert (Hodges, 89); Wotton; Norris, Friio (Adams, 80), Makel, Lasley; Evans (Crawford, 62) Substitutes not used: Milne, Connolly.

Referee: P Prosser (Gloucestershire).

Booked: Wigan: Breckin. Plymouth: Norris.

Man of the match: Friio.

Attendance: 10,294.

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