Wigan stay in pole position after fast and furious start

Brighton & Hove Albion 2 - Wigan Athletic 4
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The Independent Football

A ninth win in 12 games for Wigan kept Paul Jewell's men on course for promotion, a victory helped by their scoring all their goals before half-time last night. However, the Championship leaders were left feeling grateful for that early lead as Brighton made them look distinctly uncomfortable well before the end.

A ninth win in 12 games for Wigan kept Paul Jewell's men on course for promotion, a victory helped by their scoring all their goals before half-time last night. However, the Championship leaders were left feeling grateful for that early lead as Brighton made them look distinctly uncomfortable well before the end.

There were home fans still finding their way to the seats when Wigan struck their first goal after just 93 seconds. From an innocuous position 25 yards out, a loose, bouncing ball fell to Jimmy Bullard and the midfielder beat Rami Shaaban with a shot that left the former Arsenal goalkeeper motionless.

Albion's defence had failed to close Bullard down and worse was to follow two minutes later when Lee McCulloch was allowed to turn inside the penalty box and with no defender in close attendance, he volleyed into the far corner.

This was a first half as easy as the leaders of the Championship could have wished for and a third goal duly came with 17 minutes gone. Jason Roberts found Gary Teale overlapping on the right and his low cross-shot found its target.

The only surprise was that no Wigan goal had come from their prolific strike pair of Roberts and Nathan Ellington, although the former changed that 11 minutes before the break. McCulloch chipped a pass that Roberts headed powerfully into the top corner.

Albion had not been without their chances, most notably through Mark McCammon but the striker was wasteful, although his team-mate Adam Virgo was less so two minutes later, prodding his shot home.

With an early goal after the break vital, any genuine chance Albion had of getting back into the game came and went 10 minutes into the second half when Dean Hammond's header looped wide from Leon Knight's dangerous cross.

His fellow substitute Chris McPhee then hit the crossbar with nine minutes left. But Hammond finally grabbed a second in the 83rd minute with a well-placed header.

Brighton & Hove Albion (4-4-2): Shaaban; Reid (Watson, 67), Hinshelwood, Butters, Harding; Hart, Oatway, Nicolas (Hammond, 54), Knight; Virgo, McCammon (McPhee, 72). Substitutes not used: May (gk), Mayo.

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Filan; Eaden, Wright, Breckin, Baines; Teale, Bullard (Jarrett, 84), Kavanagh, McCulloch; Ellington, Roberts. Substitutes not used: Walsh (gk), Jackson, Graham, Johansson.

Referee: A D'Urso (Essex)

* Teddy Sheringham, who was refused a move to Blackburn Rovers in January by the West Ham manager, Alan Pardew, gave the Hammers a 76th-minute lead over Crewe last night. However a late equaliser from Steve Jones earned the visitors a point and increased the pressure on Pardew.

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