Changes to the line-up saw the return of the captain Gary Caldwell to the defensive line up. We were playing a true 3-4-3 this week, with Callum McManaman and Shaun Maloney playing up front behind Arouna Kone. The people to fall out of favour were Jean Beausejour and Franco Di Santo.
The changes looked to have worked early on. Inside the first ten minutes Wigan settled well. With Caldwell to deal with Andy Carroll it left Antolin Alcaraz and Paul Scharner to mop up the rest. It allowed us to hit West Ham hard, and we should have taken the lead when Shaun Maloney went one on one with Jussi Jaaskelainen. Yet the Finnish Goalkeeper saved the Scots man’s shot.
That was really the best Wigan could muster in what would dissipate into a below par performance for the Latics. The main reason or the change was a change in the players on the pitch. On the 15th minute Antolin Alcaraz became the victim of yet another injury. Pulling up with him hamstring the players wasn’t risked and brought straight off.
Then the panic set in. Beasuejour came on to pull in Figueroa alongside Caldwell. The balance of the team which had looked so well worked in the first few minutes had been lost, and the Wigan defence was all at sea. Where we had looked relaxed and confident we now looked rushed and panicked.
It was only going to be a matter of time before West Ham would get a strike with conviction and take the lead. It was a fluke that allowed them into the lead. It was Matt Jarvis who would prove the difference. The winger crossing a ball in from the wide position, the ball evading all player in the box, and even Wigan keeper Joel has it went into the top corner.
Disaster. We had looked okay for most of the opening period, we had started to fall to pieces defensively, but when we got the ball forward we did look a threat. In a game Wigan must have known a win would be necessary though, we looked very poor once we went a goal behind. It was almost as if all the belief was sucked out of our players. We were the better side in terms of holding onto the ball and passing it about, yet we always are, but none was looking to burst forward and really trouble West Ham once we went behind.
As half time came around Wigan were still in it, and were looking more likely to score the second goal of the game. A change for Wigan as James McArthur came on for Callum McManaman. That pushed Jordi Gomez further up the pitch to help Kone and Maloney in attack.
It worked in allowing Maloney for space on the ball. The attacker was by far our best player and looked most likely to get a goal if Wigan were going to get one, but the players couldn’t work much in open play, the few set pieces we had were poorly delivered, or the target was missed.
West Ham tried to roar into life a few times, yet Joel wasn’t really tested. The keeper had to mop up a few through balls but that was the extent of his work for the afternoon.
Yet Wigan with all the pressure couldn’t blow the West Ham wall down. Instead it would be Mr Carroll who would prove the difference; the striker flicking on the ball from a West Ham free-kick, finding its way to Kevin Nolan. Nolan then unleashed one of his characteristic volleys to score the second goal of the game.
With ten minutes to go the game was all over for Wigan. Yet we didn’t stop trying and went straight back on the attack to try and get some pride back. Yet our afternoon of toothless attacks continued, and we lost 2-0. That sums up our season.
Full credit to West Ham though. They had a plan to contain us and hit us on the break and with set pieces. It worked and they were credited with a 2-0 win and their Premier League survival for another season.