Hammers Hit By Wigan Double

HAMMERS lost out to a double strike just before half-time against Wigan Athletic at Upton Park, goals from Jason Roberts and Henri Camara securing a 2-0 win for the visitors.

Pards made three changes from the side that drew 1-1 against Portsmouth just two days previous. Christian Dailly came in for the injured Tomas Repka at right-back, Carl Fletcher replaced Shaun Newton in midfield and David Bellion started in place of Bobby Zamora, who dropped to the bench.

Hammers were also without Danny Gabbidon (gashed knee), Yossi Benayoun (ankle), Tomas Repka (hamstring) and Teddy Sheringham (calf).

Former Wigan player Roy Carroll started in goal for the Hammers, while on the bench for the visitors was David Connolly, who had a season with the Hammers in 2003/04 before moving on to Leicester City.

Wigan's Jimmy Bullard never played a first-team game during his spell at Upton Park in the late 1990s.

In a slightly different formation to the usual 4-4-2, Pards deployed Bellion on the right hand side of midfield, leaving Marlon Harewood as a loan striker, with Nigel Reo-Coker in support from midfield.

Hayden Mullins struck West Ham's first effort goalwards, but his shot from all of 30 yards sailed high into the Centenary Stand. At the other end, Jason Roberts used his strength to shrug off James Collins and get on the end of a long ball from Leighton Baines, but his strike was tamely wide of Carroll's goal.

Carroll then did well to spread himself at the feet of Henri Camara down by the touchline after Roberts' ball had picked him out.

On 24 minutes Bellion had a great chance, connecting well with Paul Konchesky's low cross on the six yard box only for Baines to make a good block.

A minute later Pards, with his reshuffled formation having little effect on an industrious Wigan, brought off Fletcher and sent on Bobby Zamora.

On the half hour, Carroll had to make a good save from Bullard's 20 yard strike, the Hammers keeper going low to his right to palm the ball to safety.

This was a half high on effort, but lacking in real quality from the two promoted sides. Hammers threatened to unleash the kind of slick, flowing football that was needed to warm the hearts of the crowd on a freezing night at Upton Park.

But the final ball was letting Alan Pardew's men down.

And on 43 minutes Wigan took the lead when Camara flicked the ball on and as Anton Ferdinand only half cleared Roberts broke away from Collins and lobbed the ball over the advancing Carroll.

A minute later and Wigan were two up as a scramble in the Hammers defence allowed the ball to run to Camara and he fired past a static Carroll to send Wigan in leading 2-0 at half-time.

HT: 0-2

The second-half saw Pards introduce Shaun Newton for David Bellion, as Hammers began to push forward, searching for a way back into this game.

But still Hammers huffed and puffed in their efforts to break down a disciplined Wigan defence.

Just past the hour mark Konchesky almost bulldozed his way through the Wigan back-line, before a follow-up effort from Mullins was charged down.

Hammers were upping the tempo, and a brilliant crowd inside Upton Park responded by roaring their team on.

On 70 minutes the first booking of the game went to Roberts, who led with his arm when contesting a header with Collins.

With 15 minutes remaining Matty Etherington forced his way to the by-line and did well to get in a cross. The ball bobbled loose off the head of a Wigan defender, but wouldn't quite drop for Zamora, despite his appeals for handball.

Carroll did well to save from Camara at his near post after the pacy striker skipped away from Collins, as it looked more and more likely that Hammers would go home empty handed.

With 10 minutes remaining Pards threw on Jeremie Aliadiere to try and unlock the Wigan defence. At the same time, Hammers old boy David Connolly came on for Wigan, replacing the dangerous Camara.

Soon after Damien Francis replaced Gary Teale as Wigan looked to run down the clock on their way to victory.

Hammers certainly did not give up, pushing hard right to the end of the game. 

But the breakthrough they needed just refused to come and it finished with Wigan easing to a 2-0 victory at Upton Park.

For Hammers, back-to-back defeats at Upton Park is not what they needed going into the New Year and Pards will now look to make amends with the trip to Charlton on New Year's Eve.