West Brom 2 Wigan Athletic 0

A goal in either half from Jay Rodriguez was enough to continue Wigan Athletic's wretched recent record that's seen them win only once in the last 11 matches.

Wednesday, 26th December 2018, 4:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 2:47 am
Christian Walton struggles to get his message across at West Brom

Latics have won only once, and drawn once, in 13 games on the road in all competitions, and boss Paul Cook will be wondering when either sequence will end after another 90 minutes of frustration.

The Baggies, bang in form and eyeing up an immediate return to the Premier League, were in front inside eight minutes, with Jay Rodriguez heading past Christian Walton from close range.

And the big striker, who’s been tipped to make a quickfire return to the top flight in the January transfer window, made it 2-0 midway through the second period.

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There looked little on when the ball bounced at his feet, 25 yards from goal, but he sent a blistering striker that Walton barely saw on its way in.

Latics never gave up the ghost and came close to a consolation in the dying minutes when Reece James - again impressive - sent a free-kick around the wall but against the post.

But the visitors didn’t deserve to get anything on the balance of the 90 minutes, and will not be looking at Saturday’s long trek to Swansea with too much excitement.

Looking for a big reaction to the 3-0 home reversal to Birmingham at the weekend, Latics came flying out of the traps and were screaming for a penalty inside the first five minutes.

Josh Windass was the man fouled, and referee Robert Jones had a very close look before awarding the visitors a corner, which was cleared.

Unfortunately, Latics weren’t allowed to ask any further questions of the home defence, before West Brom took the lead on the eight-minute mark.

Dwight Gayle was allowed too much time and space to get his cross in from the right, and Rodriguez got between Reece James and Chey Dunkley to nod past Walton.

That was Gayle’s last involvement, the on-loan Newcastle limping off before the restart, but he’d already made his mark on proceedings.

Wigan’s attempts at a response took a while to get going, with neither side offering much in the way of an attacking threat for the rest of the opening half-hour.

James saw a free-kick parried away by West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone before being hacked away, but it was the Baggies who ended the first period on the attack.

Walton had to pull off a fabulous save to deny Hal Robson-Kanu, after a great through ball from Gareth Barry.

And the on-loan Brighton custodian was called into action seconds later to scramble back and tip over a Harvey Barnes shot that had taken a wicked deflection.

Latics would have been looking to start the second period as they started the first, but unfortunately it was a continuation of the sloppiness with which they’d stuttered into half-time.

A visiting corner broke down as Windass sold Sam Morsy horribly short, and the skipper did well to hold up play until back-up arrived.

It was almost 2-0 to Albion nine minutes after the restart as Robson-Kanu looked as though he had a tap-in from the middle of the goal.

Fortunately for Latics, Dunkley managed to get across and cause enough of a barrier to prevent the Wales striker getting to the ball.

Latics then made their first change with Windass making way for Callum McManaman, who was quickly in the game and looking to impress.

After the new man was fouled, James played in a nice free-kick which was nodded straight at Johnstone by Callum Connolly.

England midfielder Jake Livermore was next to leave McManaman on the ground, this time worthy of a yellow card.

This time James’ free-kick was half-cleared to Gavin Massey, whose curled effort flew just over.

West Brom were playing on the break at this point, but they almost doubled their lead when Barnes raced through and slotted towards the far corner, only for Walton to make another fine save.

However, even Walton had no answer midway through the second period when West Brom did find their second goal.

Rodriguez found the ball at his feet, 25 yards from goal, and he sent a vicious swerving, dipping volley that did Walton in the air and nestled in the roof of the net.

The rest of the game was almost exclusively Latics, who sent on Lee Evans and Will Grigg for Connolly and Joe Garner to try and make a difference.

McManaman’s cross eventually reached the far post and Kal Naismith, who couldn’t make a decent connection.

The Baggies then had three chances in the space of 10 seconds to clinch the game, only for Walton, James and then Dunkley to get something in the way.

Wigan’s afternoon was summed up four minutes from time when James deceived Johnstone with a wonderful free-kick from way out right, only to see the ball bend round the wall and smack the outside of the post.

James then teed up Evans from 12 yards, but the midfielder could only fire his shot over the roof of the net.