Horsfield shoots Wigan to the summit

Wigan Athletic 1 West Bromwich Albion 0
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The Independent Football

Wigan achieved the high watermark of their football history as Geoff Horsfield's second goal in two games saw them replace West Brom at the top of the First Division last night.

The striker, signed from Birmingham for £1m, squandered a series of chances but the one he did take, just before half-time, was enough to propel the Laticks to unprecedented heights.

"We're making progress, but we're not going to get carried away," their manager, Paul Jewell, insisted. "We showed the two sides of our game tonight. In the first half we played some great football, and in the second we dug in."

Unimpressed by opposition on a run of six wins in the League and cup, Wigan were by far the sharper and more threatening side in the first half.

If their finishing, especially Horsfield's, had been better, they would have been ahead inside half an hour but a combination of miscues and near- misses denied them the reward their build-up deserved.

Apart from a couple of sweeping cross-field passes from Jason Koumas, Albion had little to offer, although a half-cleared corner allowed Sean Gregan to get in a shot which Tony Dinning had to head clear from under the bar.

But the moment that summed up their strange mood came when Rob Hulse, ineffectual in attacking Wigan, almost put them in front with a shot at his own goal from 30 yards out.

Horsfield miskicked in front of goal and Dinning fired over from the same raid, but the former made up for his misses immediately before the break. Ian Breckin's headed clearance gave him his chance and he held off Thomas Gaardsoe to beat Russell Hoult as he advanced with a firm right-footed shot.

The West Brom manager, Gary Megson, made three substitutions early in the second half, not surprisingly in view of the toothless display from the side he had first put on the field.

They looked considerably more workmanlike after that and each of the newcomers had a chance to equalise. Andy Johnson's fierce shot was saved at full stretch by John Filan, Lee Hughes fired over and Danny Dichio had Breckin clear from under his nose.

"We played for a third of the game and it was the last third," Megson said. "We didn't perform for the first hour."

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Filan; Eaden, Jackson, Breckin, Kennedy; Liddell, Dinning, Bullard, McCulloch; Horsfield (Roberts, 85), Ellington (Teale, 75). Substitutes not used: Walsh (gk), Mitchell, Burchill.

West Bromwich Albion (3-5-2): Hoult; Sigurdsson, Gaardsoe, Volmer (Johnson, 62), Haas; O'Connor, Gregan, Koumas, Clement; Hulse (Dichio, 58), Sakiri (Hughes, h-t). Substitutes not used: Murphy (gk), N'Dour.

Referee: M Jones.(Cheshire).