Bullard fires late winner
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: 10/09/05 4:55pm
An injury time goal from Jimmy Bullard gave Wigan a tremendous 2-1 win at West Brom.
The Baggies had gone ahead through a great Jonathan Greening strike, but they never looked solid and Wigan levelled before the interval through debutant David Connolly.
With the game seemingly heading for a draw, Wigan won it as Bullard fired home from the edge of the area.
Both teams took their time to adapt to the wet conditions but it was Wigan who created the first opening and it fell for Connolly, but he could not divert his shot on target after Lee McCulloch's header freed him in the area.
The home side then took control of the game, although they failed to create much of note - the best being a Darren Carter header which almost capitalised on a slip from Mike Pollitt in the away goal but he recovered to claim the ball.
Jason Roberts looked to get on the scoresheet against his former club and he turned well on the edge of the area after picking up Bullard's pass - but he fired well wide as he slipped on the surface.
Then the deadlock was broken just before the half hour mark and it was a great finish from Greening. Pollitt came and punched a clearance, the ball eventually fell for the former Middlesbrough man 25 yards from goal and he simply lashed the ball into the visitors' net to register his first ever strike for The Baggies.
West Brom seemed comfortable, but they could not keep their lead as Wigan levelled before the break.
A swift counter-attack saw the ball fed into the feet of Damien Francis from Bullard, he then played an instinctive first time pass into the path of Connolly - and although he had some work to do from just inside the area, he lashed a vicious shot past Chris Kirkland.
West Brom could and should have had the lead on the stroke of half time, but somehow Thomas Gaardsoe failed to hit the target with his header when unmarked from just six yards.
Moments into the second period and Nathan Ellington had his first meaningful chance on his full debut. Ronnie Wallwork's deft header found the former Latic but Pollitt was equal to his goalbound drive as he palmed it over the bar.
Despite having the better chances, Wigan were looking the more comfortable as Francis and Bullard began to see more and more of the ball.
On the hour Connolly should have done better from six yards as Graham Kavanagh's floated ball into the box found him unmarked, but he failed to make any contact.
A good run from Martin Albrechtsen down the right saw a chance come from substitute Richard Chaplow, but the England youth man snapped his shot wide of the post.
The Baggies faithful were growing increasingly frustrated at what they were seeing and manager Bryan Robson made a double switch as Kevin Campbell and Robert Earnshaw were both introduced.
Within minutes, the diminutive Welshman could have easily opened his account for the season as Albrechtsen's knock down found Earnshaw unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box but he swung and missed the ball when contact would surely have seen a goal.
The game remained delicately poised, but neither team were managing to forge anything clear cut. Earnshaw did have a half chance when the ball fell for him 30 yards out and although well struck, Pollitt was never in danger.
With West Brom pushing up more and more, that meant they were leaving gaps and Wigan almost capitalised as Bullard led a charge down the opposite end - but as he played in Connolly, the striker just failed to control the ball.
West Brom failed to take heed and they were caught out in injury time as The Latics grabbed a huge win.
Connolly held the ball up in the corner and fed the ball into the box, Roberts held off all challenges with ease before laying the ball into the path of Bullard - who side footed the ball home with great aplomb.
Although the defeat is harsh on West Brom, they only have themselves to blame for slack defending in the final moments.
Click here for West Brom v Wigan player ratings
|West Bromwich Albion||Team Name||Wigan Athletic|
|4||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||3|
|5||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||5|
|19||Total Fouls Conceded||15|
Barclays Premier League
|9||West Ham United||27||39|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||27||30|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||26||22|