The Giant Killers

Every F A cup giant killing since 1888

All time greatest F A cup giant killings

Number 37

 

Wigan Athletic 0- 2 Notts County

Fourth round replay: Tuesday February 2nd 2010

Robin Park, Wigan

Attendance: 5,519

Scorers: Stephen Hunt {75}, Gary Caldwell {own goal 78}

Sigourney Weaver starred in James Cameron's Avatar, Owl City's Fireflies topped the UK pop charts, Tony Blair faced a public enquiry into his Government's decision to go to war in Iraq while the World rallied round to offer help to the thousands made homeless by the Haiti earthquake.

Roller coaster rides in football didn't come any bigger that Notts County's in the 2009/10 season. The once proud top flight club had slumped down the divisions to the fourth tier and were in desperate need of investment when they began making headlines in the summer of 2009 with a series of bold moves and statements. First came a proposed buy out and suggested massive investment in the club, which was backed up by the sensational signing of former England manager, Sven Goran Eriksson as Director of Football and then came the equally sensational signing of former England international defender Sol Campbell as they club boldly announced that they would march back to the Premier League.

By Christmas the club were in the play-off places and confident of promotion but the rest of the dream lay in tatters. Manager Ian McParland had left the club in October and was replaced by Eriksson's former assistant at Manchester City, Hans Bakke who in turn lasted just nine games before he turned his back on the club, leaving assistant, Dave Kevan in caretaker control. Sol Campbell meanwhile played just a solitary game for the club before walking out on training and back in search of a Premier League club and by December the very ownership of the club was in doubt as the tax man demanded the club repay a hefty tax bill or face a winding up order.

A money spinning cup tie with a Premier League outfit in theory would help but this tie with a Wigan side struggling to maintain a Premier League size of support sadly failed to boost the coffers very much. Just 9,000 fans had turned up for the cup tie at Meadow Lane on fourth round day and were almost treated to a cupset when Lee Hughes and Ben Davies had fired them into a two goal half time lead. Wigan rallied in the second half with substitute, Ben Watson securing a replay seven minutes from time.

With news of a winding up order imminent, Notts County made the trip to Wigan's Robin Park stadium recently renamed the DW Stadium for sponsorship reasons for a midweek replay that in years gone by would have attracted a full house. The travelling County fans arrived to find that they outnumbered the home fans in a dreadful attendance of just over 5,000. Wigan could have cited the fact it was a midweek replay but they were just one of several Premier League and top Championship sides who had played their cup ties in front of half empty stadiums as only the traditional powerhouses of English football continued to fill their grounds in cup ties. The terrible lack of support from the Wigan public did little to inspire their team and the level of commitment the club had for the cup was further shaken when manager, Roberto Martinez rested key players with Premier League survival clearly the objective.

It was still a strong Wigan side containing Internationals from Serbia, Scotland, Austria, Barbados, Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago as well as the former Welsh International, Jason Koumas and should have been easily capable of taking care of a County side three divisions their junior and containing only one Internationalist in John Thompson of the Republic of Ireland.

Also in the County side was Kasper Schmeichel in goal, the son of the Danish and Manchester United legendary keeper, Peter. Kasper himself had once played eight times at the highest level for Manchester City and was one of four men in the starting eleven who had played Premier League football. Johnnie Jackson had been little more than a fringe player with Tottenham at the turn of the century while Jamie Clapham was the club's most experienced player, having been a part of the Ipswich side that had played in a UEFA cup campaign a few years earlier but it was the fourth of the quartet whose history was the most colourful.

Lee Hughes had been a striker much sought after by a host of Premier League clubs, despite failing to shine in a season among the elite with his boyhood idols, West Bromwich Albion but his career, not to mention his life, came crashing literally around his ears when he was involved in a high speed road accident in which a passenger of another viechle was killed. Hughes was charged with causing death by dangerous driving and sentenced to six years in prison before being released in 2007, having served three years of his sentence. With his best years behind him, Hughes was not playing his trade in the basement of the Football League at Meadow Lane.

The sparsly populated stadium allowed for every shout to echo across the stands as the sides lined up and in the early stages the signs didn't look good for the visitors as Wigan enjoyed the lion's share of posession. The best chance of the early part of the game saw Wigan's under fire striker, Jason Scotland put clean through with just Schmeichel to beat but the Trinidad & Tobago International made a hash of the opportunity and the chance was gone. Despite seeing much less of the ball, County looked the more dangerous in the opening period as Hughes forced a good save from Stojkovic while lacklustre defending from Titus Bramble gave Ben Davies a great chance, which the Serb International keeper could only palm into the path of Neal Bishop whose goal bound shot was cleared off the line by Gomez.

The second half was all about one side's opportunisim and the other's profligacy as Schmeichel enjoyed an excellent forty-five minutes in the County goal starting by yet again denying Scotland when the out of form striker had thought he'd done enough to score. Wigan began to take a firm grip on the match and thought they'd broken the deadlock ten minutes in when Paul Scharner got past the back four and fired into the net only for the visiting defenders to quickly point out that the ball had gone through a hole in the side netting. The time taken to fix the hole gave County little respite as Gomez forced two more good saves out of the Danish stopper before Wigan were made to pay for not taking their chances in the closing stages.

The deadlock was broken when a rare County corner was met by Stephen Hunt {image left} who powered a header past Stojkovic and the small band of travelling Magpies had hardly regained their composure when their hosts gifted the tie to them. Yet again the inneffective Bramble failed to deal with a routine clearance and a surprised Stephen Caldwell was unable to tidy up, instead turning the ball into his own net to set of a chorus of boos from the few faithful who remained in the ground.

Cup purists had little simpathy for the supporters of a club who, despite having never won any major honour, didn't turn out to cheer on their side when a place in the fifth round of one of the most open F A cup competitions in years was at stake. Roberto Martinez was typically philosophical in defeat stating who he could see his players frustrations growing as the chances came and went.

County meanwhile earned a much needed fifth round trip to another Premiership side who this time could offer a rewarding gate in the shape of Fulham.     

Wigan: 29:Vladimir Stojkovic, 5:Gary Caldwell, 7:Paul Scharner, 17:Emmerson Boyce [replaced by 20:Hugo Radallega 86], 19:Titus Bramble, 31:Maynor Figueroa, 10:Jason Koumas [replaced by 14:Charles N'Zogbia 61], 15:Jordi Gomez, 16:Scott Sinclair, 27:Mohamed Diame [replaced 24:James McCarthy 61], 9:Jason Scotland

Notts: 23:Kasper Schmeichel, 4:Mike Edwards, 6:John Thompson, 17:Jamie Clapham, 18:Stephen Hunt, 8:Ricky Ravenhill, 10:Neal Bishop, 11:Ben Davies [replaced by 7:Matt Hamshaw 90 + 1], 21:Johnnie Jackson, 9:Lee Hughes [replaced by 19:Luke Rodgers 73], 20:Craig Westcarr [replaced by 15:Karl Hawley 73]

2010

Wigan Athletic

Notts County