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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 February 2008, 16:55 GMT
Wigan 1-0 West Ham
By Ben Wyatt

Kevin Kilbane (right) Marlon King (left)
Kevin Kilbane (right) celebrates with Marlon King (left)
Kevin Kilbane's looping header from a free-kick just before half-time was enough to given Wigan Athletic a vital three points against West Ham United.

The well-deserved win moved Wigan out of the bottom three and two points clear of the relegation zone.

Wigan went desperately close to extending their lead late on when Antonio Valencia's shot hit both posts.

Substitute Craig Bellamy squandered West Ham's best chance when he blazed over from close range on 75 minutes.

West Ham made a positive start and Freddie Ljunberg and tested Chris Kirkland when he capitalised on a poorly cleared corner

The home side relied on sporadic aerial balls to Emile Heskey, and though he was proving a handful there were few Wigan players picking up his flick-ons.


With 20 minutes gone the Hammers forced a headed clearance from Emmerson Boyce with a cross just in front of the goal line, and only a well-timed tackle from Wilson Palacios denied Matthew Etherington.

Both teams were struggling to retain possession or exert any kind of pressure, with play as untidy as the Wigan pitch.

Wigan's best route to goal seemed to be through set pieces and Taylor made the side netting of Rob Green's goal billow with a free-kick from 25 yards out.

Another set piece saw Heskey miss a close-range header at the near post and Boyce swung and missed from five yards out as the ball flashed past him.

A drab half had an exciting conclusion when Kilbane, connecting with a Taylor free-kick from deep, leapt above his marker to send a looping header over a helpless Rob Green.

Early in the second half Michael Brown drilled in a shot that forced Green to save with his feet.

With the introduction of Nolberto Solano, West Ham began to play with more composure but struggled to make their increasing control count.

Carlton Cole's shot was high and wide after 64 minutes and soon after that miss he was replaced by Bellamy.

Wigan's set pieces continued to trouble West Ham, and following a corner, Valencia fired in a shot from 25 yards, only for the ball to hit the inside of both posts before bouncing clear.

Bellamy picked up a great knock down from Dean Ashton before he blazed his shot over with what proved to be West Ham's best scoring chance of the game.

Anton Ferdinand's superb defensive header prevented Marcus Bent from stealing in at the far post, before the Wigan striker fluffed his lines by shooting into the stands with minutes left with just Green to beat.

  • Wigan manager Steve Bruce:
    "The lads rolled up there sleeves and put in a good performance.

    "There is nothing we can do about the state of our pitch but we played to the conditions and I give credit to both sets of players.

    "It was a good time to play West Ham with them having had a big win against Liverpool in midweek, it was always going to be difficult for them."

  • West Ham manager Alan Curbishley:
    "I was disappointed with the manner of the goal that we conceded because it was from a set-piece.

    "The pitch was dreadful and it is embarrassing that we played on a pitch like that.

    "Any team coming here need to be prepared to play on it. It is not conducive to anyone trying to get the ball on to the floor and passing it."

    Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Boyce, Scharner, Kilbane, Valencia, Palacios, Brown, Taylor (Koumas 84), Heskey (Bent 57), King (Sibierski 90).
    Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Bramble.

    Booked: Taylor.

    Goals: Kilbane 45.

    West Ham: Green, Neill, Ferdinand, Upson, McCartney, Ljungberg, Noble (Bowyer 73), Mullins, Etherington (Solano 48), Cole (Bellamy 68), Ashton.
    Subs Not Used: Wright, Spector.

    Booked: Upson, Bowyer, Neill.

    Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Wigan's Antonio Valencia 8.00 (on 90 minutes).

  • Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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