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FA Cup
Saturday, 3rd January 2004

Wigan Athletic 1
West Ham United 2

by Lost Hammer

Well I suppose that's one way to get on the score sheet.

A nice bright and breezy start to an early Saturday morning and I was on the coach from Hornchurch to Wigan. I was most impressed by the JJB upon arriving in Wigan at about 1pm; from the outside it reminded me very much of the Reebok stadium. Being built in a retail park too I knew what was to be expected of the pub scene!

Getting off the coach we made our way to the nearest pub - the Red Robin - only to be told by the doorman that it was full and we would have to go to the nearby Frankie and Benny's for refreshment. Now I don't know about you, but I simply refuse to drink in such establishments - especially before a game!

Another half hour walk to the nearest pub convinced me of one thing - Wigan was actually the name for a very big industrial estate. So, a quick pint in the pub and we were on our way (via taxi) back to the JJB.

If one thing was noticeable before the match it was the state the pitch was in. Being shared by the rugby team, it wasn't in the best of conditions.

The light smattering of Wigan supporters tried their hardest to make some noise as the match kicked off - only to be drowned out by the Hammers' travelling faithful (with their team sans a certain Jermain Defoe).

The game was a very scrappy affair right from the kick-off, with no-one in particular looking like they were going to storm it. Horlock was in for the suspended Defoe while Carrick switched to right midfield as Alan Pardew chose to adopt a 4-4-2 formation.

Wigan's best chance of the first half came when Nathan Ellington headed strongly, only for David James to parry - the ball landing at the feet of another Wigan player, only for James to smother the ball again - calls of "England's number one" emanated from the East (away) Stand.

West Ham went on to have the better of the first-half chances, whilst Wigan seemed intent on gaining free-kicks at every opportunity - especially at the expense of Tomas Repka. Quite clearly one or two of the Wigan players were trying to get him sent off; he later received a(n unjust) yellow card for his 'offences'.

Towards the interval the Hammers created their two best chances of the half; Michael Carrick sent a searing shot from outside the area that dipped just over the cross bar, then shortly after Matthew Etherington completed a fantastic run down the left wing, taking on three players to complete a cross which produced a rocket volley from David Connolly only to deflect off of the cross-bar. The half-time whistle blew almost immediately after.

The only half time substitution for West Ham was Don Hutchison on for (an injured) Kevin Horlock.

Straight after the break it was Wigan back on the front foot; Ellington finding himself clear again only to drive a shot that was tipped round the bar by James - which was awarded as a goal-kick, much to the surprise of all those inside the JJB.

The Latics continued their policy of digging out Tomas Repka in an attempt to convert his yellow card to a red; Ellington went to the floor like the proverbial 'sack of spuds' after a fairly innocuous challenge, and Alan Pardew made the (right) decision in withdrawing Repka from the pitch as a sending off seemed imminent. Christian Dailly, returning from his recent bout of pleurisy on as replacement.

Following the substitution Wigan began to get on top, and had the better chances; West Ham seemingly refusing to gel and play as a team.

The turning point in the match came when Alan Pardew replaced a below-par Marlon Harewood with Liverpool loanee Neil Mellor; the effect was immediate. Just two minutes after the substitution some nice neat interplay between Connolly and Mellor left Hayden Mullins with only the keeper to beat. He did so, and with some aplomb - scoring his first goal for the Hammers in the process.

As the travelling support woke up, so did the Hammers and just five minutes later Connolly skipped down the left, waltzed round two defenders, dummied a third and slotted home nicely to put West Ham 2-0 up - and into a seemingly unassailable lead.

With the game apparently in the bag choruses of "Jingle Bells" rang out from the away stand. Moments later we saw another cracking goal from one of our players - unfortunately this one was in our own net. As Wigan pushed every man forward a header from the left arrived at the feet of Wayne Quinn, six yards from his own goal-line. Instead of choosing to hoof the ball clear the hapless full-back decided to strike a lovely left footed ball into the roof of his own net, much to the bemusement of a shrugging David James - and the amusement of both the home and away fans.

A nervy three minutes of added time ensued, but Don Hutchison wasted time superbly in those final moments, toying with the ball by the corner flag. The game was over, and the journey back to Essex looked a little more bearable!

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Player Ratings

David James
Made a fantastic double save, and kept us in the game thoughout the match.

Tomas Repka
Solid as per usual this season, only marred by the opportunity that the Wigan players were trying to get him sent off.

Wayne Quinn
Defended poorly and scored a very trivial own goal.

Ian Pearce
Looks very much off pace and hoofs the ball upfield at every chance.

Robbie Stockdale
Made some good passes but would rather back off than make a tackle.

Hayden Mullins
Seems to be improving every game, especially as of the latter games where he has got forward and provided a genuine threat.

Michael Carrick
Still slow, still poor passing, should at least be dropped a game to buck his ideas up.

Kevin Horlock
Played fairly solidly until he got injured, had a good chance on goal which narrowly missed.

Matthew Etherington
A little lacklustre on some of his previous performances, but provided a great cross for a near Connolly goal and a good attempt on goal himself.

Marlon Harewood
Nothing special at all this game, several offsides given against him, and positioning not quite there often leaving Connolly up front on his own with no-one to pass to.

David Connolly
Played his socks off again, was at every chance on goal, help provide the first and scored a great goal for the second, looks a much better player when he is playing out and out striker.


Don Hutchison
(Replaced Horlock, 45) Read the game very well, slowing it down and speeding it up when needed. He needs a start.

Christian Dailly
(Replaced Repka, 51) Only just back to match fitness but did an ok job compared to the space he filled from Repka.

Neil Mellor
(Replaced Harewood, 78) He's only scored two goals for the senior team, but we always seem to score when he is on the pitch, this time it was his lovely ball to set up the opening goal that proved that.

Stephen Bywater
Did not play.

Chris Cohen
Did not play.

Match Facts

Referee: H.Webb.

Attendance: 11793.

Man of the Match: David Connolly.

West Ham United

Goals: Hayden Mullins 80 David Connolly 85                

Booked: Tomas Repka 32 Ian Pearce 64        .

Sent Off:      .

Wigan Athletic

Filan, Eadan, de Vos, Breckin, Mitchell, Baines, Bullard, Roberts, Teale, Ellington, McCulloch.

Substitutes: Jackson (Baines 84).

Subs not used: Walsh, Dinning, Flynn, Vieira.

Goals: Quinn (og).

Booked: .

Sent Off: .

Match Report

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