Wigan Athletic 2 Bolton Wanderers 0: Roberts double raises Wigan's dream season to dizzy heights

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The Independent Online

Two well-taken goals by Jason Roberts at the end of the first half took Wigan, already such a success in their first Premiership season, into the semi-finals of a major cup competition for the first time with a well-deserved victory over their equally high-flying neighbours last night.

Just as against Newcastle in the last round, the Latics belied any suspicion that they might not be too bothered about this particular trophy, playing with great purpose against opponents who know all about juggling a variety of commitments.

The fact that players like Saturday's hat-trick hero, Henri Camara, Pascal Chimbonda, Stéphane Henchoz and Jimmy Bullard were all missing from the Wigan starting line-up, might have hinted that their priorities lay elsewhere, but that was not the way they played.

Fringe players took their chance to shine, but it was Camara's regular strike partner, Roberts, taking his tally for the season to six, who proved to be the match-winner with his two goals in five minutes immediately before half-time.

Their manager, Paul Jewell, might have felt sufficiently unwell to hand responsibility for the post-match press conference to his understudy, Chris Hutchings, but there was nothing off colour about their performance.

"Bolton are an established Premiership side and taking their scalp in a quarter-final, we're delighted," said Hutchings. "We changed our system and gave one or two other players a game and it took us a while to adapt." Once they did adapt, however, Wigan were far more effective than a Bolton side which looked strong on paper but which never really got to grips with the task and did not have a finisher like Roberts.

"They were two great goals from Jason," added Hutchings. "He's strong. He's quick and he showed a cool head." This was a match that had been euphemistically billed as being unlikely to be for the faint-hearted. Right from the start, Wigan looked as though they fancied it a little more, although opportunities were thin on the ground for both sides in the first 40 minutes.

Abdoulaye Faye had an effort scrambled away from the foot of the post by Leighton Baines and Graham Kavanagh shot into the side-netting for Wigan. Defences were getting on top, although Faye's casual touch from a throw-in allowed Damien Francis a long-range shot which flew over the Bolton net.This was a match in increasingly desperate need of a goal; five minutes before half-time, it got one.

Kavanagh's effort from outside the area was blocked, but Wigan's attackers continued to harry. Alan Mahon got the ball to Andreas Johansson and when he got back into the crowded middle of the area, Roberts was there to drive it past Jussi Jaaskelainen.

In time added on at the end of the first half, Roberts struck again, this time capitalising on a horrible mistake from the Bolton defender, Radhi Jaidi, who lost his footing, failed to clear the ball and watched in dismay as Roberts ran on to tuck it past Jaaskelainen.

Jaidi tried to make amends at the start of the second half, but his header was tipped over by Pollitt. Bolton were soonunder pressure again with Roberts a constant danger. Having survived that, they somehow contrived not to score when Jaidi's header was on its way into the net from Hidetoshi Nakata's free-kick only for Stelios Giannakopoulos to divert it wide.

Wigan also survived an appeal for handball by Baines soon after Wanderers had brought on their young knock-out specialist, Ricardo Vaz Te. On came El Hadji Diouf as well as Bolton tried to salvage something, but Wigan continued to threaten and Mahon should have done better when he wrestled his way by Ricardo Gardner.

Bolton were drawing encouragement from attacking an away end that was considerably better filled than the rest of the JJB Stadium. Their supporters were all on their feet after 66 minutes, convinced that Vaz Te had found the net, which he would have done but for a wonderful close-range save from Pollitt.

Wigan Athletic (4-1-3-2): Pollitt; Taylor (Chimbonda, 86), Jackson, De Zeeuw, Baines; Kavanagh; Francis, Mahon (Teale, 68), Johansson (Camara, 68); Roberts, McCulloch. Substitutes not used: Filan (gk), Connolly.

Bolton Wanderers (4-1-3-2): Jaaskelainen; O'Brien, Ben Haim, Jaidi, Gardner; Faye (Okocha, 70); Nolan, Nakata (Diouf, 61), Speed; Davies, Giannakopoulos (Vaz Te, 56). Substitutes not used: Walker (gk), Hunt.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

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