Wigan 1 West Ham 0

  • By: Ian Parkes, PA Sport
  • Last Updated: October 8 2012, 18:59 BST

Kevin Kilbane lifted Wigan out of the bottom three of the Barclays Premier League with a rare strike for the Latics.

Carlton Cole loses out to Emmerson Boyce.

Kilbane scored his second goal in 60 appearances for the club on the stroke of half-time to temper West Ham's enthusiasm regarding a potential challenge for a European place for next season.

The scoreline should have been greater as Michael Brown, Antonio Valencia and Marcus Bent all went close after the interval.

Fortunately, they were not made to rue the missed chances from a game in which the only bright spot for the Hammers was Craig Bellamy's return from a long-term abdominal injury.

But for 47 minutes of the first half there was little to commend this game, until out of the blue Kilbane popped up with his first goal for almost 10 months.

Prior to that, the most entertaining moment saw Robert Green respond to taunts from the Wigan supporters over the fact he had not been included in Fabio Capello's first England squad.

Green's retort was to point to the ground with both hands, as if to say 'you're going down'.

Either side of that, it was a relatively ugly half as both sides struggled to find a rhythm on a now infamous uncompromising pitch.

Fredrik Ljungberg did pull a fine low save early on out of Chris Kirkland, who will join up with the rest of the England squad that takes on Switzerland at Wembley on Wednesday.

There was then a spell of sustained Hammers pressure as they looked the team more likely to make the breakthrough, and there were times when the Wigan defence creaked.

But credit to the Latics, even with Emmerson Boyce replacing the benched Titus Bramble, they just managed to hold firm prior to mounting a riposte.

Ryan Taylor was their architect in chief with his whipped-in dead-ball deliveries often causing the West Ham rearguard problems.

The first sign of that arrived in the 23rd minute when a swerving free-kick to the far post resulted in a Taylor corner from which Green missed his take, but with no Wigan player on hand to take advantage of the mistake.

When Matthew Upson climbed over Marlon King - on his home debut - soon after to clear a forward ball from Kilbane, up stepped Taylor to curl a 25-yarder inches wide of the left-hand post.

Taylor, a right-back by trade but playing on the left wing, then planted the ball onto Emile Heskey's head with a right-wing free-kick that led to the England striker glancing his effort through the six-yard box.

You would have figured the Hammers to have been extra vigilant as the game wore on to Taylor's tactics, but all the warnings went unheeded as Wigan struck deep into first-half injury time.

Perhaps West Ham figured there was little threat when Taylor stood on the edge of the centre circle just inside the Hammers half.

But he struck a powerful ball into the area for an unmarked Kilbane to loop an angled header over a stranded Green for what proved to be the winner.

Arguably, Brown should have made it 2-0 six minutes after the break after Wigan had countered down the left with King.

Slipping the ball inside to Brown, the midfielder scuffed his first effort, but with a second bite of the cherry forced in a shot that was saved by the outstretched left leg of Green.

It was then the case that both defences continued to dominate, or the ball never ran kindly enough for a chance to materialise.

That was until the 71st minute when only cruel luck denied Valencia as he unleashed a powerful low drive that comfortably beat Green.

Needless to say the Hammers goalkeeper was counting his blessings a split second later as the ball somehow rebounded into his arms off both posts.

Then came the moment Hammers fans have long waited for with the return of Bellamy, whose first incident involved an exchange of views with Ljungberg 30 seconds after his arrival over a delayed pass that caught him offside.

But he did almost rifle home the equaliser, only to shave the bar with a rising drive that proved to be the last chance of the game for the visitors.

Bent then cleared the bar with only Green to beat after the sub for Heskey early in the second half had sprung the offside trap.

It proved irrelevant as Wigan stopped the rot of three successive defeats to rekindle their survival hopes.

Teams:

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.

Att: 20,525

Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).