Date: 28th December 2008 at 7:00pm
Written by: Baskerville

Wigan made it a perfect six with two wins over Christmas but at a price in terms of injuries.

The afternoon started badly with Kirkland injuring his groin in the warm up and was replaced by the ever dependable Pollitt.

This was the only change to the team that performed so admirably against Newcastle, with Lee Cattermole playing his last game before an enforced one game rest.

Both sides started off fast and furious and there was plenty of passion and commitment as befits a local derby.

The first chance came to Davies, when Scharner allowed the ball to get past him into Davies feet with only Pollitt to beat. Scharner redeemed himself clearing the ball and Bolton had to settle for a corner.

Once again, Latics main creative outlet was Valencia who linked up well again with Melchiot and formed an excellent understanding with the industrious and committed Zaki up front.

On the left Taylor was once again played out of his natural position but he grew in confidence as the game went on and created several chances for Zaki.

The midfield was predictably where the majority of the game was played and whilst it was a dogfight, it was by no means dirty and several of the bookings most notably Palacios and Taylors were unjustified.

Clear cut chances were few and far between as the half went on, Pollitt got down well so save from Davies although there was a clear handball in the build up. At the other end, Jaaskalienen saved well from Heskey and Palacios.

The goal when it came resulted from a clumsy challenge by O’Brien on Camara, who had replaced the injured Heskey two thirds of the way through the first half. Mr Dowd had no option but to point to the spot and Amr Zaki scored his second penalty in three days, to delight of his manager and the large and vociferous travelling Wigan support.

The second half carried on in much the same way as the first, with Bolton pushing froward looking for an equiliser and Wigan breaking down the wings looking to put in Camara/Zaki, for what hopefully would be a telling second goal.

It didn’t come and Wigan had to be alert, with Palacios clearing of his own line, with Bolton claiming the ball had crossed the line, Pollitt getting down well to save on another occasion and Shittu heading onto the Wigan bar in the closing minute.

Full time brought cheers of delight from the Wigan faithful and another three points in the bag at the old enemy’s own midden, was enough to give all Wiganners a merry Christmas.

Player Ratings

Mike Pollitt…8/10
Called in at very short notice and made a couple of crucial saves

Mario Melchiot…8/10
Once again led by example

Maynor Figueroa…7.5/10
Worked hard against Gardener and tried to get forward whenever he could

Titus Bramble…8/10
Kept Elmander quiet all afternoon

Paul Scharner…8/10
Will need several ice packs for the batterign Davies gave him but didn’t shirk in his commitment

Luis Valencia…8.5/10
Again we relied on him so much for our creativity. We must keep him at any cost during the transfer window

Wilson Palacios…8/10
A tremendous performance today which showed him back to his best

Lee Cattermole…81/0
This guy is proving to be a superb buy

Ryan Taylor…8/10
Playing out of position but showed some creative glimpes today and was often the most attacking player ont he park

Amr Zaki…9/10
Zaki was everywhere today and has re-discovered his zip

Emile Heskey…7/10
Went off injured early on and is expected to be out for at least ten days

Henri Camara…7/10
Tried hard, one good shot when he came on

Kevin Kilbane…6/10
Wasn’t on long enough to have any effect
Ditto Kevin Kilbane

Manager Rating
Steve Bruce…9/10 Six weeks ago rumours were rife of discord in the dressing room and we couldn’t buy a point, never mind a win. Now we sit 7th with 5 wins out of 6 games.

Phil Dowd…5/10
A poor performance only eclipsed by the assistant next to the main stand, who was trully appalling in virtually all his decisions this afternoon.