THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

D2 RESULTS 19040319 April ~ Paul Jewell's Wigan clinched promotion the previous week and took the title by 14 points from Crewe. Their side included Leighton Baines, Jimmy Bullard, Australian goalkeeper John Filan and Canadian defender Jason de Vos. Striker Andy Liddell was the club's top scorer with 16 goals.

Managed by Ian Holloway, QPR finished fourth and lost 1-0 in the play-off final to Cardiff, who were effectively playing at home in the Millennium Stadium. The match was sealed by a 114th-minute goal from Andy Campbell, on as a substitute for Rob Earnshaw whose 31 goals made him the division’s top scorer. Cardiff’s 3-0 defeat to Colchester this weekend was part of a poor run-in, with just eight points from their last eight games. They then only took the last play-off place by a point from Tranmere. Cardiff beat Bristol City in the play-off semi-finals while QPR knocked out Oldham.

Earlier in the season QPR had suffered one of their worst FA Cup defeats when they were beaten on penalties by Vauxhall Motors of the Northern Premier League. Rangers had gone into administration in April 2001 and were under a transfer embargo when the Football League signed up with the satellite channel ITV Digital. This meant that Rangers avoided the financial crisis caused by the channel's collapse in March 2002 which left many clubs tied to unaffordable player contracts. Holloway's side won automatic promotion in 2003-04.

Crewe finished second, with a side including 19-year-old Dean Ashton who went on to play once for England while with West Ham. An injury picked up while training with the national squad led to his retirement aged 26 in 2009. Another young striker making headlines in this division was 22-year-old Sam Parkin. He scored 67 goals in three seasons at Swindon from 2002-05 but made relatively little impact with a further eight clubs. Other notable names playing this week included Stephen Hunt (Brentford), Simon Grayson (Blackpool) and Leroy Lita (Bristol City).

The bottom four clubs this week all went down, with Northampton finishing 24th after taking only one point from their last nine matches. For Huddersfield it was a return to the fourth level after an absence of 23 years. They were promoted straight back by winning the play-off final against Mansfield, who dropped into the Conference four years later.

D2 TABLE 190403

Results & table from statto.com

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