Wigan's record run ends with barely a whimper

Wigan Athletic 0 - Plymouth Argyle 2
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The Independent Football

Wigan Athletic became the 92nd and final English league club to taste defeat this season when Plymouth Argyle ended their 17-match un-beaten record at the JJB Stadium yesterday.

The Devon club headed to the North-west more in hope than expectation, but the longer the game went on the more apparent it became that the League leaders were well below their best.

Wigan were left to regret squandering a series of early chances, and barely threatened during the second half.

Jason Roberts might have been without his regular strike partner, Nathan Ellington, who was missing with a rib injury, but that should not have stopped him from opening the scoring within five minutes. Through on goal, his shot beat the Plymouth keeper, Roman Larrieu, but rolled wide of the post.

As might be expected from a team unbeaten all season, Wigan, feisty and direct, made all the early running. A fine run from Alan Mahon took him past three defenders and deep into the Plymouth half. He slipped the ball to Roberts, and the striker's cross presented David Graham with a chance he squandered.

Wigan's rhythm was disrupted by an injury to their Scottish international Lee McCulloch, following a committed challenge on the Frenchman David Friio mid-way through the first half.

Argyle's tactic of stationing Paul Wotton in front of their back four stifled Wigan's creativity, but did little for the game as a spectacle. It took the away side 40 minutes to manage an attempt on goal, but when they did it gave them an entirely undeserved lead. Wotton's 20-yard free-kick took a heavy deflection off the wall and looped over John Filan, with the goalkeeper committed to a dive.

They could have been two ahead moments before half-time. Micky Evans, Plymouth's lone forward, sprang the offside trap and found Friio unmarked at the far post. His volley struck the post before rebounding to safety.

Plymouth played even deeper after the interval, content to concede possession. But they still posed a threat on the counterattack. On one such break Evans and Friio again combined, with the latter directing his effort just wide. Moments later, Keith Lasley shot wildly when well placed.

Plymouth doubled their lead with 20 minutes left. Ian Breckin's weak back-pass was intercepted by substitute Stevie Crawford, who rounded Filan to score. Wigan never looked like recovering.