Wigan Athletic 1-0 West Ham
Hugo Rodallega’s second goal of the season was enough to see Wigan beat West Ham 1-0 at the DW Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Colombia striker pounced in the 55th minute to stab home Jason Koumas’ blocked shot and end a run of three successive defeats for Roberto Martinez’s Latics.
Prior to that, the main point of interest had been the form of England goalkeeper Robert Green, who produced decent saves to deny Rodallega and Jordi Gomez in the first half.
Green’s performance was in stark contrast to that of England team-mate Carlton Cole, who showed little international class and was less of a threat than 20-year-old strike partner Zavon Hines on his first start of the season.
That would partly explain why the Hammers have scored only three goals in four matches and drawn a blank in their last two.
However, Rodallega’s goal was also Wigan’s first at home in three games and only their fourth all season, which gives an indication of where Martinez’s side have to improve.
The game did not really spring into life until after the interval, when five minutes into the second half Gomez released Rodallega through the middle on a counter-attack only for James Tomkins to get across and make a perfectly-timed tackle.
The Colombia striker, however, eventually made his mark five minutes later.
Charles N’Zogbia played in Mario Melchiot on the right of the area and his dangerous ball across the six-yard area should have been put away by Koumas at the far post only for Green to make a reaction block.
Rodallega was alert enough though to poke home the rebound.
Mercifully the goal sparked some life into the game and Wigan had to withstand a flurry of West Ham attacks.
Titus Bramble’s tackle denied Junior Stanislas as he burst into the area, Tomkins headed the resulting corner narrowly wide of the far post and Chris Kirkland tipped over a Scott Parker drive.
Rodallega departed to a standing ovation as he was replaced by Jason Scotland in the 73rd minute but Wigan could not afford to relax and substitute Alessandro Diamanti’s cross-shot from wide on the right cannoned back off the crossbar with Kirkland beaten.
But the Latics survived a nervous five minutes of added time to record a welcome second victory of the season.
The game had begun brightly for West Ham as, in the sixth minute, Maynor Figueroa cut across the back of Hines only for referee Alan Wiley to wave away penalty claims, with first contact also being made outside the area.
Neat interplay between Koumas and Rodallega set up Gomez on the edge of the box but Green comfortably palmed the ball away diving to his left.
The England goalkeeper then confidently watched midfielder Mohamed Diame’s 35-yard shot fly narrowly wide of his right-hand post as Wigan began to get into their stride.
West Ham’s best chance in the opening 25 minutes fell to Cole but he could only get the slightest of touches on Mark Noble’s bouncing pass and the ball harmlessly looped into Kirkland’s arms.
Kirkland was called into action to tip Noble’s shot, deflected through a crowd of players, around a post before the West Ham midfielder was booked for tripping Hendry Thomas.
Hines cut in from the left to fire a right-footed shot at Kirkland, who was almost caught out moments later when he took too long to deal with a Bramble back-pass and the young striker charged down his clearance only for it to rebound for a goal-kick
Rodallega’s looping deflected shot off defender Matthew Upson forced Green into a fingertip save over his crossbar, with the goalkeeper also turning Gomez’s dipping strike behind for a corner as Wigan pushed for the breakthrough before the interval.