Match Report: Wigan Athletic 2-1 West Ham United

Paul Thomas

We thought it would be close, and the score line seems to mirror that, yet what really happened was a Wigan domination. Following West Ham's 4-1 win last weekend expected them to have plenty of confidence going into this one, and we would have to be on our best form to deal with the London club.

We thought it would be close, and the score line seems to mirror that, yet what really happened was a Wigan domination. Following West Ham's 4-1 win last weekend expected them to have plenty of confidence going into this one, and we would have to be on our best form to deal with the London club.

Well in all fairness, we were on our best form. For all of the first half, and more of the second West Ham were left chasing Wigan shadows. The ball was being moved so quickly from one side to the other it was hard to keep up with it in the stands. While Wigan had to deal with a West Ham side that looked lost, and wanted to send the ball long to Andy Carrol every time they got the ball.

Did that work? Well over the course of the game, the answer is no. Wigan had their plan set up well, let him win headers and win the second ball when we can challenge for it, and the plan defiantly worked. After the first three minutes, in which West Ham had played four long balls to Carrol not one had cause much trouble to the Wigan defense.

Yet within side eight minutes, Wigan were in the lead. Great build up down the left hand side, with Shaun Maloney pulling the string, saw Jean Beausejour was set free and won a corner of the tackling James Collins. From the resulting corner Ivan Ramis struck the sweetest of shots, a hip height volley from Beausejour's corner.

I think we were all in a bit of shock. None had expected that goal to come. Ramis's second goal for the club, both coming against West Ham and both being rather spectacular.

So with the confidence now brimming for Wigan, we looked to get more goals. And how we tried, several players came close over the course of the first half, and all of the chances came of the back of great link up play.

James McCarthy, Shaun Maloney and Jean Beausejour all came close to scoring and saw great blocks or saves from Jussi Jaaskelainen. The best of which was a low diving save to deny a great strike from James McCarthy, which we all felt was going to result in the players first goal in over a year.

One of the things to note, was that neither Franco Di Santo or Arouna Kone were getting shots off. Yet the pair with their movement, and with their link up play to pull players apart, things look promising. You could see the frustration on the pairs faces though, as the ball just wouldn't fall for them, Kone went twice through on goal and both times the ball just wouldn't sit for him.

Well I suppose I ought to talk about West Ham, and they really had one chance in the first half. £9 million winger Matt Jarvis, whipped in a beautiful ball in the box, and it still missed everyone in the box, and caused Ali Al Habsi to react to the bottom left hand corner to stop the ball curling in.

So that is the first half summed up. Wigan in total control, yet we needed more that one goal. Yet we didn't have to wait long.

Within three minutes of the restart, a missed kicked ball by Jaaskelainen was picked up by Di Santo who played the ball wide to Beausejour. The ball was played into Maloney in the box, who knocked the ball back for the waiting James McArthur to hammer the ball low and hard past the keeper.

2-0 and we deserved it. We had been in total control of the ball and when we didn't have it we closed and harried them to the point of making mistakes. It was a phenomenal performance, but could we improve on the score line or even keep a clean sheet.

Well West Ham eventually woke up, that was after the Wigan players started to show boat on the ball and where just passing it for fun as they tried to get another goal. Yet West Ham's form of play was tough tackling combined with a few strings of passes before fluffing the final ball.

At the other end we weren't doing much better Di Santo tried and audacious over head kick but couldn't generate the power to beat the keeper. That was the best chances of the mid game action. It was much a midfield battle the second half.

It became a game of cat and mouse. Wigan willing to hold and then counter fast and quick with our pace in behind the sluggish center backs of West Ham. It would work and keep them at bay until stoppage time, where eventually West Ham would string together some chances.

A great ball in to the box again from Jarvis found Tomkins at the back post. The defenders strike bounced up and onto the cross bar, thanks to a deflected header by Maynor Figueroa. Yet it would be Tomkins who would grab West Ham's consolation goal. Three minutes into stoppage time, the defender would rise above the Latics defense to head home Matt Jarvis's cross who had been West Ham's most effective player all afternoon.

So a win is a win, and we really should have won this one by a much greater margin. The good news for Wigan is that we are starting to look like the same side as last season, confident on the ball and willing to work together as a unit.

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