Wigan win all but confirms Hammers safety
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 25 Apr 2010 13:06:00
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West Ham United edged closer to safety with a pulsating 3-2 win over fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic on Saturday afternoon.

Gianfranco Zola made one change to the side that underperformed in the 3-0 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield on Monday night, with the influential Scott Parker replacing the ineffective Junior Stanislas, who dropped to the bench.

The visitors continued where they left off against Arsenal on Sunday by taking the lead as early as the 4th minute. A corner from Ben Watson was nodded in past his own keeper by Jonathan Spector to the dismay of the majority inside Upton Park.

This was the catalyst, however, as the home side started to get back into the match. Just five minutes after the opener Carlton Cole made the most of Ilan's miscontrol, rounding the Wigan keeper Chris Kirkland but unfortunately Gary Caldwell was able to clear the ball off the line. It was a bad miss by the England striker but luckily he was not to regret his error.

In an end to end encounter Wigan were next to threaten with N'Zogbia fizzing a shot wide of Robert Green's post, and this effort was followed up by midfielder James McCarthy's effort who forced the England keeper to tip his shot onto the crossbar. Yet it was the home side that were next to register as Cole powered forward and laid the ball to Ilan, who couldn't miss as the Hammers made the game level.

Things got even better just before half-time as Radoslav Kovac put the home sidein front nodding in the rebound after Kirkland had magnificently saved Mark Noble's fierce free-kick. The goal provided a huge tonic in West Ham's survival bid and news was filtering through that Hull were behind at Sunderland.

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This did not seem to spur the Hammers on, and it was the visitors who equalised seven minutes after the restart. It was Watson again who provided panic with a well-placed corner and Hugo Rodallega converted once again against West Ham despite big suspicions of handball.

The tension was evident around the ground and the home side were particularly nervy. N'Zogbia went close on a few occasions before the Hammers started to click once again, led on by the magnificent Parker. Just 13 minutes from time, the talented midfielder lit up Upton Park with a goal to grace any Premier League game. The Hammers number 8 went on a typically powerful, surging run before letting a 25 yard piledriver go which screamed into the corner of the net. The sense of relief was palpable and was written across Parker's face.

Wigan did not lie down and still looked threatening but the home side held out for another crucial win that all but confirms their Premier League status. If Burnley lose at home to Liverpool on Sunday afternoon, West Ham will be assured of their safety with only freak results being able to save both Hull and the Clarets.

West Ham travel to Fulham next weekend with the pressure off, as Zola's men look to enjoy their end of season run.


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