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Premier League

  • May 15, 2011
  • • 11:00 AM
  • • The DW Stadium, Wigan
  • Referee: M. Dean
  • • Attendance: 22043

Wigan Athletic 3-2 West Ham United: N’Zogbia brace relegates Hammers to Championship after Avram Grant’s side surrenders two goal lead

Wigan Athletic 3-2 West Ham United: N’Zogbia brace relegates Hammers to Championship after Avram Grant’s side surrenders two goal lead

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Jonathan Spector and West Ham will not be in the EPL next season after a loss to Wigan.

West Ham United surrendered a two-goal lead and was relegated to the Championship after Charles N'Zogbia struck a vital injury time winner for Wigan Athletic.

A first half brace from Demba Ba seemed to have kept the Hammers' slim Premier League survival hopes intact. However, a second half collapse saw the Londoners seven points from safety with one game left, while Robert Green's mistake left Wigan level on points with Birmingham City and Blackpool.

For the hosts, manager Roberto Martinez welcomed back midfield battler Mohamed Diame after he passed a late fitness test to be included in the starting side. Victor Moses made way for the Frenchman in the only change from the team that drew 1-1 against Aston Villa last weekend.

Opposite number Avram Grant chanced his arm and made five changes from the team that played out a 1-1 stalemate with Blackburn Rovers last Saturday. Patched up talisman Scott Parker watched from the substitute's bench as Jordan Spence, James Tomkins, Jack Collison, Zavon Hines and Frederic Piquionne came in for Lars Jacobsen, Manuel Da Costa, Luis Boa Morte, Freddie Sears and Carlton Cole.

Fired up with the knowledge that a win would draw them level with Blackpool and Birmingham City, the Latics started with a bang. A move in the first minute led to cries for a penalty for a Spence handball from a Tom Cleverley shot being turned away by referee Mike Dean.

Diame shot over when well positioned inside the area in the third minute before Robert Green's handling in the air was tested under pressure from Hugo Rodallega.

In the 11th minute, the Colombian then used his strength to hold off Danny Gabbidon and chest down a long ball from Emerson Boyce, but his effort curled harmlessly into Green's hands.

Wigan had started much the brighter but Demba Ba then rose to head home the crucial opening goal a minute later. The Senegalese nodded in from five yards out after a goalmouth scramble that involved efforts from Collison and Piquionne was only half-cleared to Thomas Hitzlsperger to pick out a dangerous center.

West Ham now played with a freedom borne of the reprieve. Delightful one touch play that wouldn't have looked amiss at the Emirates followed as the dejected Wigan fans watched on.

In a repetition of the first goal, Ba again took full advantage of Wigan's frailty under the high ball to double the visitors' lead in the 26th minute. The striker headed home on the back post after Tomkins was allowed to nod a deep Hitzlsperger free kick unopposed by the daydreaming Maynor Figueroa.

The defensive hesitation seemed contagious three minutes later when Antolin Alcaraz nipped in front of Tomkins as the center back expected a cross to drift safely past the goal line. Collison remained much more alert than his teammate and he slid in to deny Diame a clear opportunity eight yards from goal.

Wigan now stared at the probability of coming into the final round of games at the foot of the table and three points away from safety. Ben Watson prevented this from looking inevitable in the first half alone as he cleared a Piquionne shot off the goal line after Alcaraz has charged out wildly at a thumped clearance.

West Ham was now in the ascendancy but Green's reflexes were tested twice in quick fire fashion. First, the England international palmed away a Hugo Rodallega bicycle kick in the 36th minute before his reflexes had to be at their sharpest as he denied the Colombian from point blank range after he nodded a Watson corner at him two minutes later.

Cries of rebellion rained down from the DW Stadium stands shortly after Cleverley was inches away from trapping an Emerson Boyce through ball as Dean called time on the half.

Martinez reacted at halftime by hooking the ineffectual McCarthy and Cleverley for Moses and Conor Sammon. In typical fashion, he declined to pair the Irish striker with Rodallega up front and instead pushed the Colombian onto the left wing.

Despite the changes, Wigan survived a 46th minute shout for a penalty after Caldwell slid into the onrushing Jonathan Spector as he prepared to shoot. Replays suggested, however, that the officials had made the correct call.

Wigan fought vainly to get a foothold in the match before a wild Tomkins challenge on the edge of his own area felled N'Zogbia in the 57th minute. The Frenchman then dusted himself off to curl an excellent free kick into the top right corner of Green's net.

The breakthrough increased nerves on the West Ham bench. A knock to Spector moments later saw Parker end his four match absence as he was summoned from the bench as the Hammers looked to cling on to their slight survival hopes.

The health of the Professional Football Writers' Player of the Season recipient's Achilles tendon was tested immediately as he sprinted across the park to snub out a Wigan counterattack.

Martinez's halftime throw of the dice then paid out in grand style as replacement Conor Sammon calmly claimed his first goal in English football. The January signing from Kilmarnock cut inside and placed his shot past Green in the 68th minute after Watson picked him out inside the box following an advantage from referee Dean after Tomkins snapped into Rodallega.

The turnaround now saw West Ham mathematically relegated to the Championship after the club had seemed to have clung on for one more week.

Even more pressure was then piled on Grant's shoulders as a helicopter began to circle the DW Stadium with the banner 'AVRAM GRANT - MILLWALL LEGEND.' A cruel blow to the Israeli after he had just watched his team surrender a lead and face certain relegation.

Sammon's power and direct running caused countless problems at the back for West Ham. The Irishman's flick to Moses in the 81st minute saw the Nigerian hammer into Green's side netting.

West Ham continued to threaten on the counter and some last ditch defending kept the draw intact in the 84th minute. Figueroa first stretched every sinew to block Hines' shot, before the ball was worked back to Hines and his effort was cleared off the goal line by Alcaraz with Ali Al Habsi beaten.

The Wigan fans then screamed for a red card as the ball was cleared up the other end but Danny Gabiddon's last-man tackle on Sammon was executed to perfection.

As the game crept into injury time Watson's low 25-yard effort evaded Green's reach but bounced off the post into his grateful arms. In the next attack, Sammon was played one on one with Green but greedily shot straight at him with Rodallega in space.

Wigan's push looked to have gone without reward before Robert Green replicated his error on World Cup 2010 duty. This time, the Norwich-born stopper let an N'Zogbia effort slip through his grasp to condemn the Hammers to the drop and send Wigan into jubilation.

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