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The BBC's Simon Brotherton
"Gillingham are in the top two divisions for the first time in their history"
 real 28k

Gillingham manager Peter Taylor
"Over this season, we deserved to get promotion"
 real 28k

Sunday, 28 May, 2000, 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK
Second time lucky for Gills
Gillingham's players celebrate their 3-2 win
Gillingham's players celebrate their 3-2 win
Gillingham 3-2 Wigan Athletic
Second Division play-off final

Gillingham have been promoted to the Nationwide Division One for the first time in their 107-year history after a 3-2 victory over 10-man Wigan Athletic at Wembley.

Three extra-time goals, two for the Gills, sealed a historic victory for the Kent side.

Last season they came within three minutes of First Division football but were beaten in a play-off penalty shoot out by Manchester City.

But it was second time lucky for Peter Taylor's Gillingham in a thrilling game.

They were 1-0 up in the first half but then fell behind in extra time before two goals in four minutes saw them promoted.

We've done fantastic this season and this just caps it all off

Match winner Andy Thompson

Super sub Steve Butler said: "We deserve it.

"I feel sorry for Wigan but I think we deserved it this year after what happened last year."

"Both subs have come on and scored and it's a great feeling."

Gillingham had gone a goal up in the first half when Wigan defender Pat McGibbon was credited with an own goal in the 35th minute.

Andy Hessenthaler had run from the midfield and played the ball out wide to Carl Asaba.

His teasing low cross was met by Wigan striker Iffy Onoura and McGibbon, and came off the defender's knee and bumbled over the line.
McGibbon scored an unfortunate own goal
McGibbon scored an unfortunate own goal

Wigan equalised in the 53rd minute with a wonderful goal by Simon Howarth.

He trapped the ball with his left foot and then flicked it over the 'keeper with the outside of his right boot.

In the 65th minute former Barnsley defender Arjan De Zeeuw's powerful header was stopped on the line by Gills' Southall.

Wigan fans thought the ball had crossed the line but it was ruled out.

In the 85th minute Wigan were reduced to 10 men when left back Kevin Sharp was sent off for two bookable offences.

Controversial penalty

It went to extra time and Wigan looked as though they had pulled off a great victory when substitute Stuart Barlow scored a controversial penalty.

Barry Ashby was harshly judged to have fouled Darren Sheridan in the area, and Barlow coolly slotted the penalty home.

Wigan hung on until the 114th minute when Gillingham's Steve Butler equalised.

Four minutes later substitute Andy Thompson rose to glance a header into the bottom right corner and this time Gillingham held on to their lead for a memorable victory.

Gillingham now join Burnley and Preston in the Nationwide Division One.

It was a sad end to John Benson's reign at Wigan. He had already announced he would be relinquishing his manager's position after this game.


Wigan: Stillie, Green, McGibbon, Balmer, De Zeeuw, Sharp, Kilford, Redfearn, Sheridan, Haworth, Liddell. Subs: Carroll, Bradshaw, Barlow, Griffiths, Peron.

Gillingham: Bartram, Pennock, Edge, Ashby, Butters, Southall, Hessenthaler, Lewis, Gooden, Asaba, Onuora. Subs: Mautone, Smith, Nosworthy, Butler, Thomson. Referee: R Styles (Waterlooville)

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