Birmingham 0-1 Wigan: Latics nick win
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 07/03/17 11:48pm
Wigan boosted their Sky Bet Championship survival chances with a hard fought 1-0 win at fellow strugglers Birmingham.
Defender Dan Burn scored what proved to be the winner in the first half at St Andrew's against the club for whom he enjoyed a successful loan spell in 2013.
The Latics, who have won more away points from home than at the DW Stadium this season, remain in the bottom three but are now only two points from safety after a first win in five league outings.
Birmingham, meanwhile, are only eight points clear of the relegation zone after yet another below-par display left them with only two wins in 15 league games under Gianfranco Zola.
Zola gave a vote of confidence to the team defeated 3-1 by Leeds on Friday by announcing an unchanged line-up and it appeared justified as the side played with a lot of confidence in the early stages, with several attacks inspired by some skillful ball distribution by Craig Gardner.
They then lost their way as the game progressed and this allowed Wigan to pose some serious problems for the home side.
Omar Bogle, a former Birmingham youth player, caught the eye but it was Michael Jacobs who tested Tomasz Kuszczak with a smart header in the 19th minute which the keeper tipped over the bar.
From the resultant corner Jamie Hanson swung over a ball into the six-yard box and Burn was on hand to force his close-range effort home for his third goal of the season.
Wigan could have doubled their advantage but Gabriel Obertan over-hit a pass to the on-rushing Bogle, who had moved clear of the opposition defence.
Birmingham failed to carve out any serious goal-scoring opportunities and the home fans expressed their dissatisfaction when they loudly booed the players off the field at half-time.
In an attempt to inject more power and tempo into their play Birmingham introduced Lukas Jutkiewicz and Kerim Frei at the break, but a dogged Wigan side continued to cause problems as Jacobs fired in a shot which forced Kuszczak into action once more.
Burn and Jake Buxton were defensive stalwarts as they foiled wave after wave of Birmingham attacks.
Leaving themselves exposed at the back, Birmingham very nearly conceded a second goal when Jacobs broke through only to glide his effort just wide of the post.
Birmingham boss Gianfranco Zola:
"I fully understand the supporters wanting a change. So far I have not given them what I promised. I feel sorry for them. I feel disappointed and angry. It is not as if I not enjoying what I am doing. I am too disappointed and angry and I need to analyse the situation. I am responsible and I want to do the right things."
"This performance was not acceptable. Only three days ago they produced an outstanding performance and then they play like they did against Wigan. There are no excuses. It is not acceptable to me or the club. We didn't deserve anything from the game. I feel embarrassed even talking about the performance.
"I am not deflecting the responsibility but this is not what we want. If we continue playing like we did against Wigan we could easily be sucked into a relegation fight."
Wigan boss Warren Joyce:
"It was a really good performance as they are a clever side. We adapted well to the way they played. Every game is important but you cannot look at the table and keeping in touch with other teams. We have to try and win every single game.
"If you look at the form table over the last 10 or 11 games we would be in the top eight or nine. We could be even higher with the win over Birmingham. We have given ourselves a chance of staying in the Championship with the points we have picked up and we have to continue getting points.
"There are some big games coming up but we have played better against the leading teams so I am not fazed by these matches."