Victory lifted Bolton to within two points of the 40-point plateau so often cited as the minimum requirement for Premier League survival but, in practical terms, this impressive derby win for Owen Coyle's team will surely keep them in the top flight for another season.
For that they can thank, in large part, the Wigan central defender Gary Caldwell, who had a hand in all of the Bolton goals, the kind of ordeal which one rarely witnesses at this level of the game and one which the Scotland international, signed during the last transfer window, did not deserve to have to endure.
"In my tenure we've lost one game here, and that was against Arsenal in the first game," said Coyle. "It was a massive three points and it gives us a little bit of breathing space but that's all it does. We now have to focus on this group of games coming. Every point in the Premier League is hard earned but we are capable of picking up points at home and away."
After 10 minutes, and an unconvincing effort to attack Jussi Jaaskelainen's long ball by Titus Bramble, Caldwell was caught out by Johan Elmander (below), who drove in his third goal of the season in convincing fashion. In a game in which the first goal was always liable to be crucial, given the importance of the derby and the fact both teams were in a reasonable patch of form, that error was costly, although not necessarily fatal.
Wigan had been denied what looked a strong penalty claim after Zat Knight's trip on Hugo Rodallega and Jaaskaleinen had to make a superb save from Charles N'Zogbia before the interval, diving to keep out a shot destined for the far corner after a free-kick floated in by Victor Moses, making his full Wigan debut.
However, Bolton secured their third victory in the past four games in the opening exchanges of the second half starting, in the 48th minute, when Caldwell tripped Tamir Cohen and the impressive Kevin Davies calmly stroked the resulting penalty into the bottom left-hand corner.
Five minutes later, Caldwell was again culpable as Fabrice Muamba gathered Chung-Yong Lee's through-ball, brushed past the defender far too easily, and placed his first goal in his 18-month Bolton career past Chris Kirkland. In the 69th minute the rout was completed as Matt Taylor, who came on as a substitute for just two minutes, latched on to Elmander's header and scored from the corner of the six-yard box, a chance presented, predictably by this stage, by yet another Caldwell slip.
"That was a shock," said Wigan's manager, Roberto Martinez, who saw his team beat Liverpool at the start of the week. "The penalties – the one we didn't get, the one they did – were the turning point but we only have ourselves to blame. The goals we conceded were really, really soft."
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the match: Davies
Match rating: 7/10Reuse content