Wigan take derby spoils
Latics leave with the points despite goalmouth controversy
By Rob Carragher. Last Updated: 28/12/08 10:01pm
Zaki: sent Jaaskelainen the wrong way from the spot
A penalty from Amr Zaki just before half-time secured a 1-0 victory for Wigan over local rivals Bolton at The Reebok.
The win gives The Latics a five-point cushion over Gary Megson's men, but the importance of the result will as much be a matter of pride for the clubs, who are separated by a mere nine miles.
As a result, the first half proved a typically heated affair between the North West rivals, highlighted by heavy tackles and several bookings for both sides.
However, the stop-start nature of the tie did not cause the excitement levels to suffer, with an open end-to-end clash throughout.
What the game lacked in quality it made up for in passion, and it was the constant attrition of Wigan towards the end of the first half that brought about Zaki's opener from the penalty spot following Andy O'Brien's clumsy foul.
The second half continued in the same frenetic manner, but Bolton could not find the equaliser, despite a controversial clearance off the line by Wilson Palacios and a late header against the bar by Danny Shittu.
Even before the game had started, Wigan were forced to face up to the loss of Chris Kirkland in the warm-up and injuries looked likely to be the order of the day as foul after foul came in the first few minutes.
Indeed, it took just six minutes for the first yellow card to be dished out when Kevin Nolan went studs first toward the leg of Palacios.
After treatment for the Honduran, play resumed and Bolton pushed forward five minutes later, but Johan Elmander cleared the crossbar with his effort following good work by Ricardo Gardner and Matt Taylor.
Wigan responded and Zaki got into a good position only to see his shot blocked by O'Brien.
Play switched back to the other end and Bolton fans screamed for a penalty when Kevin Davies went to ground following a challenge from Paul Scharner as he shaped to shoot.
Davies did not protest and referee Phil Dowd allowed play to continue. TV replays then showed that Scharner had won the ball cleanly.
Nolan then tried his luck on goal in the 24th minute but his effort cleared the bar.
Wigan hit back in the 26th minute and Taylor picked out Emile Heskey but his touch was poor and goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen was able to make a save.
Six minutes later the visitors were forced to make another change when Heskey limped off and Henri Camara came on.
Camara was quickly into the action and fired in a shot from the edge of the area that the goalkeeper did well to turn around the post.
Wigan were beginning to dictate the pace of the game as half-time approached.
Jaaskelainen made another good block from Lee Cattermole in the 41st minute after a corner from Ryan Taylor.
Three minutes later Wigan made the breakthrough from the spot after O'Brien's challenge on Camara.
Zaki stepped up and sent Jaaskelainen the wrong way to take his tally for the season to 11 goals.
Bolton hit back immediately but Nolan and Gardner got in a muddle and Pollitt was able to take advantage and make the block.
The home side almost equalised in the 53rd minute when Shittu got on the end of a corner from Matt Taylor only for Palacios to clear his header off the line.
Then Elmander should have put Bolton level but the Swedish striker's close-range effort was parried by the stand-in goalkeeper.
Holding a 1-0 lead, Wigan were content to sit back and try and hit Bolton on the counter.
Bolton were finding gaps at the back and Gretar Steinsson rolled the ball across the face of the area to Taylor. But he hit a tired shot straight at Pollitt.
Bolton continued to chip away at the visitors with the clock ticking down and Davies was putting in a hard shift.
Shittu almost equalised in stoppage-time but his header clipped the top of the bar and went out of play.
|Bolton Wanderers||Team Statistics||Wigan Athletic|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|4||Shots on Target||5|
|8||Shots off Target||4|
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
|12||West Ham United||35||37|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||33||33|