Date: 2nd February 2008 at 6:25pm
Written by: baskerville

On a day when the pitch seemed more suitable for mud wrestling rather than the playing of quality football a committed and determined performance from Wigan saw them take the points from the visit of the in-form West Ham.

Steve Bruce made several changes from the debacle at ‘Boro on Tuesday night, relegating Bramble and Bent to the bench

Bruce re-instated Taylor on the left wing and has Boyce partnering Scharner in the centre of defence.

Marlon King also made his bow partnering the England select Heskey up front.

The first ten minutes saw the Latics defence displaying the nerves of a bride on her wedding day, on several occasions failing to safely clear the ball and putting themselves under pressure.

One of these mis-cues result in Kirkland getting down well to a good shot from Ljuneberg.

Whether this was due to concerns regarding the pitch or the new line up isn`t known however the cool heads of Melchiot and Scharner settled things down.

The majority of the first half was played in the West Ham half but there was little finesse in Wigan`s play mostly long balls up field for King and Heskey to chase.

Heskey looked sharper than lately no doubt boosted by his England recall winning every ball in the air. King seemed to have developed a early understanding something that Bent hasn`t as yet.

The best attacking play in the first half came from the ever adventurous Melchiot who broke from the back , did a neat one two and shot but was comfortably saved by Green.

The goal when it came had a degree of flukiness about it.

Set piece specialist Taylor crossed and Killer met the ball with a header which looped over everyone including the bemused Green in the West Ham net. As this was in injury time it enabled Latics to go into the Bovril break with the initiative.

The second half started mostly with the same pattern of play. Brown and Palacios were totally committed in the centre of midfield with the flair coming from Valencia.

Heskey seemed to take a knock when trying a back flick in the West ham penalty area and soldiered on for ten minutes before being replaced by Bent.

Around the same time Taylor picked up a knock to his knee and to his credit played on for about thirty minutes including two runs down the wing but it was evident that he wasn`t fit and should have been replaced sooner.

Anyone watching him take corners just before he was replaced could see he was absolutely worn out.

After Heskey was replaced Latics seemed to withdraw more into their own half content to try and catch West Ham on the break.

One such break led to a rasping shot from Valencia which beat Green all ends up, hit both posts and stayed out!

West Ham huffed and puffed but only rarely threatened the goal. Their best chance came when Ljuneberg put Bellamy clean through and when a goal seemed certain he blazed over.

King who didn`t look fit but didn`t lack effort was replaced by Sibs. In the last five minutes Latics had a great chance to seal the victory, Valencia putting Bent through who didn`t even trouble Green as he blazed over unchallenged.

The time added on of four minutes brought groans from the Latics fans especially as a long injury to Etherington in the first half only resulted in two minutes of added time.

Latics calmly held on and deserve great credit for their recovery from Tuesdays game.

Player Ratings

Kirkland?7
Punched well and one good save in the first half from Ljuneberg

Melchiot?8
If the class he displays is what they teach full backs in Holland can we sign two Dutch forwards. The guy is class.

Kilbane?7
First goal of the season, worked hard especially covering when Taylor was struggling to cover in the second half.

Scharner?.8.5
Read the game superbly and was a danger at every set piece.

Boyce?7
Started off slowly but grew in confidence as the game went on. Back to his performances of last season.

Valencia?7.5
Needs to shoot more often, gave their defence a torrid time, unlucky not to score.

Brown?8
Would hate to play against him, managed to wind up the whole West ham team on his own.

Totally committed, Chris Hutchins deserves the credit for bringing him to the club.

Palacios?7.5
A committed defensive performances and showed his class with a few through balls

Taylor?6.5
Some great set pieces which had the West Ham defence under pressure.

Clearly not fit and should have been brought off earlier.

Heskey?6.5
Looked good in the air but seems to have lost his scoring touch. One shot nearly hit the corner flag.

Picking up knocks with alarming regularity.

King?6.5
Welcome to the premier league. Was willing but was easily muscled off the ball by the experienced defenders. Will get better I`ve no doubt.

Bent?5
Poor display, his reactions were slow, he didn`t seem committed to the cause and really should have done better when one on one with the keeper.

Koumas
Only on the pitch a few minutes
Only on the pitch a few minutes

Manager Rating
Steve Bruce?.8

Deserves credit for turning an abject performance into a winning one in five days.

Ref Watch
Martin Atkinson?6

One a two strange decisions but by and large OK.

The Pitch?2
Awful but the same for both sides