Wigan Athletic welcomed Hull City to the JJB Stadium hoping for the win that would move them up to seventh in the table and with it, the prospect of securing European football for next season.
Facing them were a Hull side that Steve Bruce’s men devoured 5-0 back in August at the KC Stadium.
The Latics made one change from the last weekend’s win against Sunderland with Hugo Rodallega replacing the injured Antonio Valencia whilst Hull made five changes from the team that were knocked out of the FA Cup by Arsenal in midweek.
Yet Wigan began the game brightly and looked by far the better side in a goalless first-half.
Indeed Bruce’s side almost went ahead as early as the second minute. An intended left-wing cross by Maynor Figueroa was overhit but ended up rebounding off the Hull cross-bar before rebounding to safety.
A minute later and the Honduran was causing problems again, crossing for Titus Bramble who headed just wide.
The Hull defence were being overworked in the opening exchanges with goalkeeper Matt Duke getting a vital touch on a low cross by Charles N’Zogbia to prevent Ben Watson tapping home from close range.
Watson then tested Duke again with a low shot but his effort was far too central and allowed the Hull stopper to claim comfortably.
Mido was the next up to have sight of goal as Wigan continued to pour forwards. Hugo Rodallega did well to pick out the Egyptian in the box but he fired a well-hit shot over the bar.
Rodallega himself then spurned a good opportunity just on the half-hour mark after being put through by Paul Scharner, but his shot was equally well saved by Duke.
Hull’s afternoon suffered a further blow before half-time with defender Andy Dawson hobbling off to be replaced by Richard Garcia but the Tigers managed to reach the interval still on level terms.
Wigan were also forced into a change at half-time with Daniel De Ridder replacing N’Zogbia who failed to recover from a knock picked up in a challenge with Kamil Zayatte.
Yet it was Hull who began the second half well and almost grabbed an opening goal within minutes of the restart.
A Dean Marney corner swung into the near post found Manucho but Chris Kirkland showed great reflexes to palm his header over the bar.
The Tigers looked to be a growing threat but on the hour mark the action swung back down the other end and the home side really ought to have finally taken the lead.
Rodallega did well to control a ball in the area but couldn’t quite get his shot away which almost allowed Watson to slot home from close range but Duke was alive to the chance and blocked the ball.
Minutes later and Watson thought he had scored. A short corner was taken quickly and allowed the youngster to advance on goal before crashing a strike into the side-netting.
In search of a goal, Bruce sent on Amr Zaki for Mido swiftly followed by Olivier Kapo and with 10 minutes to go Wigan went agonisingly close after Rodallega saw his header strike the post from De Ridder’s cross.
With time ticking away it looked as though the home side were to be frustrated, however, Wigan were not to be denied.
A long throw into the box caused a scramble with the ball eventually falling to Watson who floated a lovely finish over Duke for the winner.
Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Boyce, Figueroa, Watson, Brown, Scharner (Kapo, 77), N'Zogbia (De Ridder, 46), Rodallega, Mido (Zaki, 72).
Hull: Duke, Ricketts, Zayatte (Folan, 60), Turner, Dawson (Garcia, 38), Mendy, Marney, Kilbane, Geovanni, Manucho, Fagan (Halmosi, 82
1-0 Wigan Athletic (Watson, 84)
Gill Clark, Goal.com