Horsfield's double keeps Wigan riding high and ends Stoke resistance

Wigan Athletic 2 Stoke City 1
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The Independent Football

Geoff Horsfield continued to pay off his £1m transfer fee from Birmingham City as his two second-half goals last night moved Wigan up to second place in the First Division table and took their unbeaten run to 14 matches.

Clean, crisp strikes in the 55th and 68th minutes gave Wigan the win that they deserved, despite falling behind in the first half to a visiting side who were rarely able to put them under pressure.

Horsfield pounced first when Neil Roberts, on for the injured Nathan Ellington, found the consistently lively Lee McCulloch on the left. Tony Dinning's shot from his cross was blocked, but Horsfield was there to fire home the rebound.

Wigan, who were on a run of four draws going into this game, were back in the familiar territory of being level with their opposition, but they needed more than that from last night's match. They got it when Horsfield latched onto Nicky Eaden's speculative through ball and found himself with plenty of time to shoot past the advancing Stoke goalkeeper Ed De Goey for his fourth goal for Wigan since joining the club.

"It's all about determination," his manager, Paul Jewell, said afterwards. "He chased lost causes all night and you get your rewards in this game.

"I thought we played very well tonight and were dead unlucky to be 1-0 down at half-time. The only thing we didn't do was hit the target."

Stoke had three players missing through suspension and struggled to make an impact on the game. It would have been a travesty if they had escaped from the JJB Stadium with a victory, but after Wigan had gone close through Dinning, McCulloch and Ellington in quick succession, Stoke pinched the lead against the run of play before half-time.

Wigan were caught cold by Kris Commons' breakaway and he played the ball into Gifton Noel-Williams' stride for the big striker to tuck it past John Filan in the Wigan goal.

Despite some of their players obviously tiring, City could have snatched a point at the end. In injury time, Daryl Russell hit the bar and was disappointed not to hit the target when Wigan failed to clear a free-kick.

"Daryl's gutted because if he hits the target he scores," the Stoke manager, Tony Pulis, said. "But we can take a lot of heart from tonight, because we played very positively."

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Filan; Eaden, Jackson, Breckin, McMillan; Liddell, Bullard, Dinning, McCulloch; Ellington (Roberts, 36), Horsfield. Substitutes not used: Walsh (gk), Teale, Kennedy, Jarrett.

Stoke City (3-5-2): De Goey; Halls, Hill (Owen, 79), Williams; Henry (Akinbiyi, 77), Russell, Neal, Commons, Clarke; Asaba, Noel-Williams. Substitutes not used: Cutler (gk), Greenacre, Wilkinson.

Referee: S Mathieson (Cheshire).