Wigan edge scrappy encounter

West Ham United's magnificent run of form came to a disappointing end away to Wigan Athletic with only a looping Kevin Kilbane effort separating the sides.

Kilbane struck just before half-time, escaping the attentions of the visitors' normally resolute rearguard to send a looping header over Robert Green from Ryan Taylor's free-kick. It was a match of few opportunities, with the difficult conditions at the JJB Stadium stifling the attacking intentions of both teams.

The visitors, who had never lost in their five previous visits, had been buoyed by the presence of Craig Bellamy, back on the bench after three months out with an abdominal problem. His return meant there was no place for Luis Boa Morte in the matchday 16, with midweek substitutes Dean Ashton and Matthew Etherington earning starting berths and Lee Bowyer dropping down to take a place among the substitutes.

As in the 1-0 victory on Wednesday against Liverpool, Freddie Ljungberg always looked the most likely to create something for Alan Curbishley's side. With the huge travelling support in full voice, the Sweden captain had his first attempt after just three minutes, as he fired in a shot that forced a good save from Chris Kirkland in the Wigan goal.

In truth, that was to be as good as it got in the first half. On 12 minutes, Ryan Taylor upended Ljungberg to earn a caution from Martin Atkinson and he was then guilty shortly afterwards of handball. Etherington then did well on the left before firing in a cross that just eluded Ashton and Ljungberg.

Five minutes later, Ljungberg created space before crossing for Carlton Cole to flick backwards for Etherington. Just as the winger was about to shoot, Wilson Palacios put in a last-ditch block. Wigan were showing occasionally, most notably with Emile Heskey twice getting space only to waste both his opportunities.

It appeared a set-piece was going to be the most likely route to goal and Taylor was given a free-kick chance when Upson was adjudged to have fouled King and his right-footed effort flashed just wide. Upson was to earn a caution for a foul on Valencia and once again Taylor went close, this time whipping in a free-kick that just eluded Emmerson Boyce.

Taylor was given yet another set-piece deep into added time and this time he made it count. With everyone expecting a ball to the defenders up from the back, he played in a ball to Kilbane who met this with a header that lofted over the stranded Green and into the net.

The second half began in disappointing fashion as well, with Etherington limping off to be replaced by Solano. Ten minutes into the half, Michael Brown had the opportunity to double Wigan's advantage but Green was alert to save well. At the other end, Upson was able to connect with a Noble corner but could not direct his effort on target. Wigan had to make a change just before the hour with Marcus Bent replacing Heskey. A good chance did arrive in the 65th minute when Ashton touched the ball off for Cole, but he could not keep his shot on target from a tight angle.

Bellamy entered the fray in the 68th minute, replacing Cole. Two minutes later, Ashton did well to find Solano sneaking in on the right but his cut-back for Noble gave the young midfielder no chance to control. Valencia then somehow managed to hit both posts with a 25-yard shot that had Green beaten but ended up nestling safely in the goalkeeper's hands.

With 17 minutes left, Bowyer came on for Noble who immediately had an icepack strapped to his left hamstring. Two minutes later, Bellamy was given a great chance to equalise but could not direct his shot on target after great work by Ljungberg. At the other end, Valencia burst away only to once more be denied by Green, with the referee then booking Bowyer for a foul in the build-up.

Wigan brought on Jason Koumas for the impressive Taylor with just over five minutes remaining. Bent could have wrapped things up in the 89th minute after beating the offside trap. With just Green to beat, he ballooned his shot over the bar. King then went off for Antoine Sibierski in added time as Wigan did all they could to see out the game. A late caution for Neill compounded the visitors' frustration.