Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Sunday August 17 2008
The Latics may have lost their opening game at West Ham but the performance gave so much promise for the season ahead and with a couple of half chances taken all three points would be in the Wigan account now.
Latics suffered the worst possibly start that Steve Bruce could have imagined, a goal down in the blink of an eye and two down in the shake of a head.
For the first minute and a half Latics took the game to the Hammers, indeed West Ham couldn`t get the ball, but when they did they broke quickly, a punt up to Dean Ashton who turned the obviously unfit Paul Scharner with ease and struck a fierce shot past Kirkland at his near post.
One nil after 2 minutes and West Ham looked a little shocked themselves to be in front so early, worse was to come from Latics point of view.
With barely 7 minutes on the clock West Ham got a corner, the ball was floated into the Latics box and flicked on by a Hammers player to Dean Ashton who was standing totally unmarked a yard out at the far post 2-0.
Latics defence looked very shaky and last seasons solidness was missing, Melchiot was showboating at the back and Figueroa at times looked lost though Wigan still did most of the attacking in the first half
There were several wild shots from Latics players with Figueroa and Kapo the main culprits, Figueroa seeming to shoot every time he got the ball in the opponents half.
Latics could have pulled a goal back though late in the first half, a corner was floated in, Kapo got his head to it and the ball looped over Green only for Carlton Cole to use his 6` 7" frame to head the ball away from under the bar.
The second half started the same way the first had with Latics pressing and within a minute Zaki scored a stunning goal on his league debut.
Latics won a throw in on the left adjacent to the West Ham 18 yard line, Figueroa took a long throw aimed at the near post, Heskey met the throw and flicked the ball towards the penalty spot where Zaki was being marked by Lucas Neill.
The Egyptian got his foot to the ball and struck the sweetest half volley that thundered past Green and into the roof of the net, 2-1 and game on.
Latics had several more half chances with Zaki having three easier ones than the one he scored, a header that went wide and two half volleys, one in the dying moments of the game.
Olivier Kapo also had two efforts that tested Green in the West Ham goal but the equaliser just wouldn`t come as Latics pressed and West Ham hung on.
Bruce threw caution to the wind late on sending on Koumas and DeRidder for Melchiot and Scharner and putting Valencia to right back, two minutes later Sibierski replaced Cattermole has the Latics tried in vein to get at least a point from the game.
On the whole Bruce will be disappointed with the opening 10 minutes but pleased with what he saw there after and especially in the second half when the Latics totally dominated the game.
Get the shaky defence sorted, get Scharner fit and there should be a good season ahead and the debut of one Amr Zaki was full of Eastern Promise
Date:Sunday August 17 2008
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