Date: 22nd March 2009 at 5:22pm
Written by: Baskerville

A late strike from Ben Watson, his second goal in as many games, secured the deserved three points for Steve Bruce’s side, although Bruce must have been forgiven for thinking it wasn’t going to be his side’s day, the number of chances Wigan squandered.

Bruce was forced to make changes from last week’s victory at Sunderland, replacing the injured Valencia with Hugo Rodellaga and sticking with a 4-5-1 formation, with Mido as the lone striker and Zaki once again having to be content with a place on the bench.

Latics started the brighter, with N’ Zgobia looking dangerous on the left and Rodellaga looking to push forward in support of Mido at every chance. In midfield Scharner making his one hundredth appearence for the club played in front of the industrious and very effective partnership of Brown and Watson with the stable back four once again looking secure.

The first real chance came to Figueroa, who I am sure would have claimed it was deliberate had the ball gone into the net. A clearence fell to him midway in the Hull half close to the touchline, his ball in appeared to be going out for a goal kick but with the keeper watching the ball hit the cross bar and bounced away.

The next chance fell to Watson in a similar position to the one he scored from at Sunderland but his fierce shot was well saved by Duke.
Latics kept pushing and Rodellage showing his obvious class set up two chances for Mido, who should have done better with both attempts. The first he blasted over the bar and the second, with a seemingly good chance of scoring as the defence was opened up by Rodellaga, went in the same place.
Rodellaga could have actually been selfish given his positioning and had a go himself, possibly with better results.

Another chance was created by Rodellaga but as the ball came across the goal line, Watson was unable to put it in the net.

Scharner was pushing forward to support the front two and put a lovely ball through for Rodellaga but with only the keeper to beat , Rodellaga’s fierce shot was well saved by Duke, who beat the ball away and then saved Scharner’s follow up, the ball going out for a corner.

The game was by no means dirty but saw a few fierce tackles from the visitors ,with a tackle late in the first half by Zayette on N’Zogbia, which saw both players receive lengthy treatment. Both players attempted to play on but N’Zogbia who was Latics’ best creative outlet was forced to go off in injury time leaving Latics to complete the half with ten men.

Half time came with Latics, who had only scored two home goals this year, wondering how they were going for a half time cuppa goaless and in all honesty a five nil half time score wouldn’t have flattered the home side, such was their dominance.

N’Zogbia was replaced at half time by the mercurial but unpredictable De Ridder on the left wing with Latics reverting to a more conventional 4-4-2.

Wigan continued to push forward with Brown, assuming the roll of creative midfielder making all his passes tell and terrorising the Tigers midifeld when defending.

Watson continued to look dangerous going forward and a shot from the right hand side of the penalty area hit the side netting.

Hull’s best chance came from a corner with a bullet header from Manucho,being brilliantly tipped over by Kirkland.

Wigan replaced the industrious Mido with Zaki to wild applause from the home fans.Zaki, who hasn’t scored at home since September looked sharper than of late and go up to head a De Ridder cross against the post, the ball bounced around and Rodellaga who was by far the best forward on show executed an overhead kick which was cleared off the line.

Steve Bruce then brought Kapo on for Paul Scharner, who appeared to be struggling with a knee injury having hyper-extended his knee when making a tackle some ten minutes before. Kapo was creative and looked the player Steve Bruce keeps telling us all he can be,with neat touches and telling passes.

The goal when it came, was scrappy compared to the quality chances that had been squandered. A Latics cross was puched out by Duke, the ball fell to Watson whose shot went in despite ex Latics player Kilbane’s attempt to clear the ball from under the cross bar.
The Latics players raced ‘en masse’ to celebrate in front of the East stand,their relief palpable.

Latics were relatively untroubled in the last ten minutes and the deserved win should have secured a fifth season of Premier League football and the soon to be re-named JJB Stadium.

Player Ratings

Chris Kirkland…7/10
Redundant for most of the game but made a brilliant save to prevent Hull taking the lead.

Mario Melchiot…7/10
A steady performance from Wigan’s captain

Titus Bramble…8/10
Added a few noughts to his new contract fee with another excellent performance.

Emerson Boyce…8/10
Emerson’s partnership with Titus is the bedrock of Wigan’s success this season

Maynor Figueroa…7/10
Played well once again

Charles N’Zogbia…7/10
A great performance ended by a crunching tackle

Micheal Brown…9/10
A performance worthy of a man of the match award.

Ben Watson…8.5/10
Showing why Bruce snapped him up in the January transfer window.

Paul Schanrer…7.5/10
Enjoyed his freedom in midfield

A combative performance as a lone striker. Wasted two good chances.

The best forward on the pitch by a mile

De Ridder…6/10
Neat little touches but very little to show for it

Still not the player of the beginning of the season but improving.
Looked better today, hopefully will kick on next season

Manager Rating
Steve Bruce…8/10. SOmewhow made a defensive 4-5-1 line up into the most creative 45 minutes at the JJB this season.

In Rodellaga and N’Zogbia he has signed to class players.

Andre Marriner…7/10
Let the game flow but should have given the combative Fagan a second yellow card.