Bowyer earns point against Wigan

Lee Bowyer salvaged a point for the Hammers with a timely 80th-minute equaliser on an afternoon when they were left to rue a host of missed opportunities.

Certainly, the second-half substitute could not have chosen a better moment to score his first-ever goal for the club after Paul Scharner had given the Latics the lead against the run of play, just a couple of minutes earlier. Following their win over Birmingham City last time out, Hammers had made just one change as skipper Lucas Neill returned in place of Jonathan Spector, who was named on the bench.

Wearing black armbands in memory of former Upton Park striker Jeroen Boere, who died in Spain last weekend, West Ham started brightly in the intense east end sunshine as the wayward Bobby Zamora let fly from range before George McCartney sent an angled effort sizzling over the angle.

Chris Kirkland was then forced to scamper from his line to thwart both Craig Bellamy and then Kieron Dyer, while the relieved Wigan 'keeper also gathered Matthew Etherington's teasing free-kick into the danger area as a pack of claret and blue shirts raced in for the kill.

And on the quarter-hour mark, Mark Noble's inch-perfect cross was met by the rising Zamora but his downward header bounced agonisingly wide of Kirkland's right-hand post. Bellamy then thought he had opened his Hammers' account only to be thwarted by the sight of a raised offside flag and as West Ham seemingly edged closer and closer to breaking the deadlock, McCartney also deposited another long-ranger onto the roof of the net.

Having erased the memory of an opening day defeat at Everton with back-to-back victories over Middlesbrough and then Sunderland, the Latics had proudly sat on top of the Premiership at the close of play last Saturday.

Not surprisingly, Chris Hutchings had named an unchanged side following that 3-0 over victory over the Black Cats but, apart from a Scharner header that flew just wide, the visitors did little to threaten Robert Green in the home goal during the opening half-hour.

And although Wigan's cause was not helped by the departure of an injured Antoine Sibierski just before the break, only Green's left-hand post prevented the Latics from taking the lead against the run of play when Jason Koumas found space to unleash a low 20-yarder in the closing moments of the first-half.

Just after the break, runaway substitute Julius Aghahowa saw the ball drift wide after he lifted it over the advancing Green, who was then relieved to see Scharner send a 25-yard grass-cutter the wrong side of the base of his right-hand upright.

In reply, Mark Noble's angled 20-yard pile-driver rocketed through a pack of bodies and beyond the past the far post after Denny Landzaat had been booked for handball and, as Curbs looked to turn chances to goals, he introduced Dean Ashton on the hour-mark to the delight of the Hammers' supporters amongst the shirt-sleeved 33,793 crowd.

With three wins from their four league visits to Upton Park, though, Wigan still had a little bit of history on their side and when Koumas sent a right-wing free-kick into the danger zone, Green bravely dived into Aghahowa's studs a split-second before Mario Melchiot nodded the loose ball wide.

Bowyer then replaced Hayden Mullins before Luis Boa Morte came on for the disappointed Bellamy, who trudged off holding his groin after a lively display.

On 78 minutes, however, Wigan took the lead in spectacular style, when Melchiot's long-throw was nodded on by Emile Heskey under pressure from Matthew Upson and Scharner sent an acrobatic overhead kick past Green from 12 yards.

But the visitors' joy was destined to be short-lived, for within just two minutes, the three Hammers' substitutes combined to create a richly-deserved home equaliser when Ashton found Boa Morte whose defence-splitting pass picked out Bowyer and he kept his cool to slot an inch-perfect, angled 12-yarder wide of the exposed Kirkland to rescue a point.