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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 May, 2005, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Wigan 3-1 Reading
Lee McCulloch celebrates scoring the opening goal
Wigan won promotion to the Premiership with a comfortable win over Reading.

After a promising start, Lee McCulloch slotted home from close range on 18 minutes following good work by Jason Roberts and Ian Breckin.

Roberts doubled the lead moments later having been played in by Nathan Ellington, who capped the win with a late header from Jason Jarrett's cross.

The result ended Reading's own play-off hopes but Steve Sidwell turned in Dave Kitson's cross for a consolation goal.

Wigan were only elected to the Football League in 1978 and the win caps a remarkable climb through the game's tiers and sparked scenes of mass celebration at the JJB Stadium.

Both teams came into the game with plenty to play for, Wigan knowing a win would see them go up while the visitors needed points to keep up their push for the play-offs.

But despite the size of the prize at stake, Wigan betrayed few signs of nerves and started by far the better.

Reading failed to test home keeper John Filan until the closing moments of the first half when Nicky Forster missed two glorious opportunities.

By then they were already two goals adrift with their play-off hopes in tatters.

Early sloppy defending almost gifted Ellington a chance to open the scoring, and the Latics looked particularly dangerous down the right flank which was the source of the opening goal.

Roberts was played in and pulled the ball back after a powerful run to the bye line, Breckin flicked it on with a neat back heel and McCulloch was on hand to score.

Reading were still reeling when Wigan struck again, Ellington linking with Roberts on the edge of the area before the latter breezed past the wrong-footed Ibrahima Sonko and sent a slide-rule right-footed finish beyond Marcus Hahnerman.

Breckin spurned a free header to increase the lead before Forster missed his opportunities to cut the deficit, first miscuing a volley in the area before planting a header into Filan's grateful grasp.

Those forays triggered a greater urgency in Reading's display after the break, but they could not breach a Wigan rearguard that boasts the best defensive record in the division.

The hosts were happy to sit back, draw the sting out of the intermittent attacks and play out time before the promotion party kicked off.

Ellington's 85th-minute header - his 24th goal of the campaign - ensured those celebrations went off with a swing, despite Sidwell's injury-time goal.


Wigan: Filan, Eaden, Breckin, Jackson, McMillan, Jarrett, Bullard (Teale 82), Kavanagh, McCulloch, Roberts (Mahon 63), Ellington (Wright 89).
Subs Not Used: Johansson, Walsh.

Booked: Kavanagh.

Goals: McCulloch 18, Roberts 21, Ellington 85.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Hughes, Little (Owusu 72), Harper, Sidwell, Brooker (Ferdinand 57), Kitson, Forster.
Subs Not Used: Keown, Newman, Young.

Booked: Little.

Goals: Sidwell 90.

Att: 19,662.

Ref: M Atkinson (W Yorkshire).




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