CHESTERFIELD’S chokers suffered a nine-minute meltdown as Wigan roared back to snatch a dramatic victory.
Dan Gardner’s pearler and an own goal from Leon Barnett had the Spireites 2-0 up and cruising as the match moved into its final knockings.
But after Barnett atoned with a screaming volley, Chesterfield fell to pieces, handing Craig Davies the chance to equalise before debutant Jordy Hiwula netted a 90th-minute winner.
Many of Wigan’s 1,000-strong travelling contingent had foolishly headed for the exits in search of an early train, but those that remained spilled onto the pitch in breathless delirium. For everyone else at the Proact, there was only desolation.
“That’s football isn’t it? We’d played so well for 80 minutes and we’re sitting there at 2-0 thinking we’ve got the points in the bag,” said a dejected Dean Saunders. “I think everybody in the ground felt like that.
“But they’ve scored from a corner, that gives them a bit of hope. Then they’ve thrown everything forward and hoped something would bounce. Unfortunately for us, it did.
“After the way we played, we’d have been disappointed with 2-2.To lose is a kick in the teeth, but we aren’t the first team that’s happened to and we won’t be the last.”
How Wigan walked away from this game with a victory is mystery up there with Nessie and the Abominable Snowman.
Though fleetingly dangerous – Tommy Lee made spectacular saves from Craig Davies and the clean through Michael Jacobs – the Latics were second-best for huge chunks of an absorbing, often scrappy encounter.
They should also have conceded a penalty when Donervon Daniels felled Gardner, only for referee Mark Brown to bizarrely pull play back and award the Spireites a freekick for a previous infringement. “Clear penalty,” said Saunders. “He got that one wrong.”
Reward eventually came during what Wigan boss Gary Caldwell called “our crazy ten minutes” – Gardner bending a delicious 20yard strike into the top corner before Barnett somehow powered Daniel Jones’ free-kick into the
FELLED: Wigan’s Chris McCann is brought down in the box by Sam Hird