Wigan win on Jewell's return
Latics eventually find way through against poor Rams
Last Updated: February 23, 2008 5:09pm
Scharner: Goal hero
Wigan were the deserved winners of a scrappy encounter with Derby on Paul Jewell's return to the JJB Stadium.
The Latics always looked the likely victors against a woefully disorganised Derby team, but it took an hour for Steve Bruce's men to find the breakthrough.
The visitors were lucky to escape when Mario Melchiot appeared to back-heel the ball over the line in the first half, but Giles Barnes cleared and the goal was not given.
But Wigan eventually found a way through when Paul Scharner was in the right place to turn the ball in after a goalmouth scramble that saw Emile Heskey twice denied by Roy Carroll.
And Antonio Valencia made it 2-0 six minutes from time when he was given acres of space to pick his spot following a cross from Wilson Palacios.
Wigan dominated the first half after an early sixth-minute scare when Hossam Ghaly teed up Stephen Pearson, only for the midfielder to fire tamely at Chris Kirkland.
After that it was all the Latics, with their first clear chance arriving in the 14th minute when Kevin Kilbane directed a Melchiot cross directly at Carroll from seven yards.
Then 11 minutes later Melchiot was denied the opener by a linesman as his back-heel from five yards in latching on to a hooked effort from Heskey was cleared by Barnes.
Replays appeared to show the whole of the ball had crossed the line prior to Barnes' intervention, but the visitors escaped.
As was the case at frequent intervals as their defending was backs-to-the-wall stuff at times, such as when Dean Leacock hooked clear a Valencia cross with Kilbane and Michael Brown looming to tap home.
Later in the half another poor decision potentially cost Wigan as Marlon King was a yard onside in seizing on a through ball from Heskey, but the linesman who failed to spot the earlier 'goal' raised his flag.
When Heskey sidefooted a low Brown cross tamely at Carroll just before the interval, the frustrated supporters expressed their unhappiness that another chance had gone begging.
But their unrest was abated on the hour, three minutes after Jewell switched from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 with his side looking more comfortable at the start of the second period than at any stage in the opening 45 minutes.
Carroll initially made a superb double save to deny Heskey, first blocking a downward header and then tipping away the rebound from a right-foot half-volley.
Unfortunately for the Northern Ireland international, the ball was directed into Scharner's path, allowing the centre-back to hook home his fifth goal of the season from three yards into an empty net.
It was then all one-way traffic again after that, with the Latics adding a second in the 84th minute as Valencia ended a 15-month wait for only his second goal for the club.
After being picked out by a raking pass from Palacios, the winger turned inside Jay McEveley before rifling an eight-yard left-foot drive into the roof of the net.
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