Wigan Athletic 1 West Ham United 0: Kilbane revives new-age Wigan

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The Independent Football

The pitch belonged to another age, but there was no mistaking that this Wigan team is very much a creation of the Premier League-era.

The locals at the JJB may just about have got used to their new stadium, but the sight of an Ecuadorian and a Honduran patrolling the home midfield must still cause the occasional double-take. Now under the stewardship of Steve Bruce this once-unfashionable club have become a very modern one.

Necessity is the mother of invention as the former Birmingham manager tries to plot a second successive avoidance of relegation, preferably sealed slightly earlier than last year.

Unable to compete in the transfer market with nearby sides in Manchester and Liverpool, and with the short-term the priority following his mid-season arrival, Bruce's resourcefulness has to admired. Hence Antonio Valencia's loan deal was made permanent last month and Wilson Palacios arrived from Deportivo Olimpia, as did his countryman Maynor Figueroa. These South American acquisitions are being introduced alongside some less exotic team-mates.

The fact that a right-footed No 2, Ryan Taylor, patrols the left wing, and a right-footed No 8, Kevin Kilbane, is filling in behind him at left back, says it all. Or at least it does when one is the man of the match and the other pops up unmarked to score the game's only goal.

It was Taylor's deliveries that created almost every Wigan opportunity. And he supplied the one that counted in first-half injury time to set up Kilbane's header.

Kilbane, 31 last Friday, was not in the West Ham United penalty area as part of a training-ground master plan. And he modestly admitted afterwards that he was merely trying to guide his header back across the face of goal.

Never mind, it was enough lift Wigan out of the relegation places and into the relative safety of 15th position.

Goal: Kilbane 45 (1-0).

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Kirkland; Melchiot, Boyce, Scharner, Kilbane; Valencia, Palacios, Brown, Taylor (Koumas, 84); Heskey (Bent, 56), King (Sibierski, 89). Substitutes not used: Pollitt (gk), Bramble.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Green; Neill, Ferdinand, Upson, McCartney; Ljungberg, Noble (Bowyer, 73), Mullins, Etherington (Solano, 48); Cole (Bellamy 68), Ashton. Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), Spector.

Booked: Wigan: Taylor. West Ham: Upson, Bowyer, Neill.

Referee: M Atkinson.

Man of the match: Taylor.

Attendance: 20,525.

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