Match report: Shane Long raises the standard for Steve Clarke's West Bromwich achievers against Wigan

Wigan 1 West Bromwich Albion 2

Jack Gaughan

A 90 minutes that would reveal an awful lot about the continuing credentials of both these teams. West Bromwich, gunning for their best start to a top flight season since 1983, are a revitalised outfit, whereas Wigan, having beaten West Ham and Tottenham in their last two, sensed the opportunity to widen the gap between themselves and the bottom three.

Both managers would probably have accepted a point beforehand – keeping them ticking over – but a first away win of the season for Steve Clarke suggests the Baggies are making greater strides than the Latics. "The away performances have been good, but it is nice to finally win," Clarke said. "It isn't a monkey off our back, but it was nice to win. We have a quality squad – they know they are all valuable – and keep making a great contribution every time they're selected."

There was also an intriguing subplot by way of mistreated Chelsea strikers. Franco Di Santo and Romelu Lukaku have both found niches for their respective clubs, presenting talismanic figures, focal points to hit and prove that there is life after the luxurious surroundings of Cobham. Buoyed by his call-up to the Argentina squad to face Saudi Arabia this week, Di Santo has found the arrogance crucial to become a Premier League success, while Lukaku was at times unplayable: Roberto Di Matteo could recall him in January.

When Lukaku's speculative delivery wasn't dealt with by the hosts in the 31st minute, Chris Brunt was afforded time to pick out the unmarked James Morrison, ghosting from deep, to power a header past Ali Al Habsi. It was against the run of play, but the terrific work rate of the Baggies' front two caused Gary Caldwell, in particular, countless problems. Vulnerable to pace, his tentative marshalling of Shane Long frequently surrendered territorial advantage.

Long's persistence brought about the second goal, hunting Caldwell down, forcing him to concede a needless throw-in. From that, Lukaku collected, before flick to find the onrushing Billy Jones, who was being lazily tracked by Maynor Figueroa. His centre deflected off Caldwell to double the lead. Long's consolatory pat on the captain's head said it all – the latter put out of his misery in the second half, hauled off by Roberto Martinez.

"I haven't got enough words to say about Shane – he is brilliant every week," the normally stony-faced Clarke beamed. "Wigan play a system that is slightly different to most teams, so you have to pay attention to that. I was concerned that if we played with a lone striker he would be outnumbered." His tactical reshuffle – playing two up front to combat the amount of space the home back three had to move into – dumbfounded Wigan.

But Di Santo awoke, a man possessed. Hedemanded the ball 25 yards from goal and drew defenders before releasing Jean Beausejour. The wing-back's cross found Arouna Koné to tap in at the back post.

The home support hoped for a rousing second half, but their side failed to get going enough to break the visitors down. "After the results we've had, we didn't cope as well as we should. We had enough chances maybe to draw but it wasn't our day," Martinez reflected.

West Bromwich showed unusual steel and one that could conceivably keep them dining towards the top of the table for longer than predicted. Clarke won't be looking at the history books for omens or confidence – that 1983-84 season they finished 17th – but just gets on with the job in hand. "It sounds boring and I understand you guys want a line, but… we have to go from game to game."

Wigan Athletic (3-4-2-1): Al Habsi; Ramis, Caldwell (Stam, 65), Figueroa; Boyce, Watson (Gomez, 85), McCarthy, Beausejour; Maloney, Kone; Di Santo (Boselli, 86)

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Myhill; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Morrison (Gera, 68), Yacob, Mulumbu, Brunt; Lukaku (Rosenberg, 87), Long (Odemwingie, 69)

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

Man of the match: Shane Long (West Bromwich)

Match rating: 6/10

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
science
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links