10 November 2012

Wigan 1-2 West Brom

West Brom recorded their second successive Premier League victory at the DW stadium and continued their excellent start to the season, an efficient performance coupled with a slice of good fortune enough to see off fellow high flyers Wigan.

The Latics were looking for a third consecutive win, Arouna Kone and Franco Di Santo a threat in attack, while wing backs Emmerson Boyce and Jean Beausejour possessing the ability to provide for their strikers. Ben Foster failed to shrug off his groin injury, so Boaz Myhill made his first Premier League start of the season. James Morrison, Romelu Lukaku and Chris Brunt all came into the starting line up, Zoltan Gera, Graham Dorrans and previous match winner Peter Odemwingie all dropping to the bench.

The home side started the brighter and were allowed to enjoy plenty of possession, Ben Watson tested Myhill with a stinging shot from range which the keeper held. Albion first threatened after a quarter of an hour with two corners, the latter leading to a kerfuffle between Albion defender Olsson and Ali Al-Habsi, after the Swede jumped into the goalkeeper when challenging for an aerial ball.

The Baggies continued to assert their authority when on the counter, wary that Wigan could be caught out this way with their 3-4-3 set-up. A defensive error by Figueroa nearly allowed Albion in on the 20th minute, a square ball across goal was intercepted by Morrison, but Al Habsi rushed out to make amends for his side, and the ball was cleared before Lukaku could cause any damage.

The visitors did go ahead in the 31st minute, Lukaku's initial cross evaded everyone, but Brunt collected the loose ball and curled in a perfect ball for Morrison, unmarked, to head home from a matter of yards.

Billy Jones nearly opened his account for the Throstles shortly after, the right back bringing the ball forward and cutting inside, before unleashing a left footed shot which clipped the outside of Al Habsi's left hand post.

Unfortunately the second goal, which came on 43, could not be awarded to Jones, but the former Preston captain can take a large amount of credit for his efforts in the build up. A throw in near the corner flag was received by Lukaku, Jones then played a one-two with Morrison and sent a low shot at goal which deflected wickedly over Gary Caldwell and over the helpless Al Habsi.

Albion's two goal advantage may have been earned, but they switched off defensively a moment later to allow their hosts to reduce the arrears just before half-time. Maloney's ball out wide found Beausejour, the Chilean delivering a ball across goal that Kone tapped in.

H-T: 1-2

The Latics came out rejuvenated in the second half and went about searching for an equaliser. Caldwell headed narrowly wide a Ben Watson corner kick, after Claudio Yacob had received a yellow card for kicking the ball away in frustration after a decision went against his side.

Shane Long, starting alongside Lukaku for the first time, went on a surging run, beating a number of blue shirts in the process, but his efforts ultimately went unrewarded. Long was also involved in Albion's best chance of the second period, back heeling a ball on the edge of the box which evaded the original target Morrison but fell for Lukaku. The Belgian struck it first time, but Al Habsi produced a wonder save to tip the goal bound effort over the bar.

Long tested the Oman international himself, striking a low shot which Al Habsi was forced to beat away after good work from the ever-impressive Yacob and Morrison.

Ronnie Stam replaced Caldwell in Wigan's back-line, while Steve Clarke introduced Zoltan Gera and Peter Odemwingie, who came on for Long and Morrison. Lukaku was booked for a similar crime to that of Yacob soon after, before he too departed, allowing Markus Rosenberg to enter the pitch.

Late on and Wigan were now, as expected, the team in the ascendancy. Di Santo, who was effective for the home side, took the ball to the byline before pulling it back for Shaun Maloney, the Scot having more time than he believed and hurriedly curled the ball over the bar. 

James McCarthy was booked as well soon after, referee Swarbrick judging the Ireland international to have gone to ground too easily under a Mulumbu challenge.

Di Santo turned from provider to chancer late on, Maloney delivering a sumptuous ball to the back post but the Argentine, who received a call up to the international squad recently, couldn't quite make contact. 

The positive Roberto Martinez gambled for the last five minutes hoping to be rewarded with a share of the spoils, introducing Jordi Gomez and Mauro Boselli, the attacking duo replacing Di Santo and Watson. 

The final throes saw a wonderful curling shot bend just round the post from Youssouf Mulumbu on the break, and although the visiting area was bombarded with hanging balls throughout the extortinate five minutes of stoppage time, the Baggies held on to earn their first away win of the season.

Match ratings: WIG- Al Habsi 7, Caldwell 6 (Stam 5), Ramis 6, Boyce 6, Figueroa 5, Beausejour 7, Watson 6 (Gomez 85), McCarthy 6, Maloney 6, Di Santo 7 (Boselli 85), Kone 7

WBA- Myhill 6, Jones 7, McAuley 8, Olsson 8, Ridgewell 6, Yacob 8, Mulumbu 7, Brunt 6, Morrison 7 (Gera 5), Long 7 (Odemwingie 5), Lukaku 6 (Rosenberg 86)

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