West Brom 2-0 Wigan: Jay Rodriguez hits double for Baggies
West Brom close gap on second-place Norwich in Sky Bet Championship.
Last Updated: 26/12/18 6:22pm
West Brom kept their bid to win automatic promotion firmly on course as a Jay Rodriguez double earned them a 2-0 Sky Bet Championship win against Wigan at The Hawthorns.
Rodriguez's eighth-minute header broke the deadlock and he struck again in the 69th minute with his 12th goal of the season - and the team's 52nd of the campaign - as Albion secured a third straight win and a sixth victory in their last eight games.
While third-placed Albion's sights are on the top of the table, Wigan are slipping close to the relegation zone as their poor run continued.
They have won only once in 11 games and taken a solitary point from their last 10 away matches.
The Baggies' free-scoring attack was quickly into a familiar routine with Rodriguez nodding them into the lead. He headed the ball past goalkeeper Christian Walton from seven yards after the ball had been played to him by Dwight Gayle.
But the goal came at a cost for Albion as 13-goal leading scorer Gayle went down after crossing the ball with what appeared to be a knee problem and was immediately replaced by Hal Robson-Kanu.
Given Wigan's poor away form, it would have been easy for them to fold, but they quickly went in search of an equaliser and would have got one in the 14th minute but for goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, who beat away Reece James's goal bound free-kick.
Despite that scare, Albion generally remained in the ascendancy and it needed the combined efforts of Wigan central defender Dan Burn and Walton to prevent them doubling their advantage.
Robson-Kanu was homing in on goal in the 19th minute but Burn challenged him as he was shooting and Walton completed the rescue act by tipping the ball around the post.
Walton was in action again 10 minutes later - this time pushing a shot from Harvey Barnes over the bar as Albion started to dominate proceedings.
Robson-Kanu then narrowly failed to convert a cross from Matt Phillips in the 50th minute as Albion began the second-half as they had ended the first.
Failing to take their chances threatened to cost them in the 65th minute when they failed to clear a free-kick and Albion were relieved to see Gavin Massey's shot fly just over the bar.
But West Brom's frustrations were eased when Rodriguez finally found a way past Walton who moments earlier had denied Robson-Kanu.
Rodriguez volleyed home an unstoppable 20-yard volley after he had intercepted a clearance from Wigan's Cheyenne Dunkley.
Wigan's dismal day was then summed up in the 86th minute when Reece James slammed a 25-yard free-kick against the foot of the post.
Darren Moore: "I am really pleased for Jay. He showed his power today and he did some incredible work for the team off the ball and he worked tirelessly. So for him to get his rewards with the two goals was really, really pleasing. Jay is a great character in the dressing room and a wonderful person, a humble man.
"You could put Jay in any one of the 11 positions and he will perform to the best of his ability. They were two great finishes and he gave us three valuable points. If there is any (transfer) interest (in Rodriguez) I can't stop that. Me and Jay were players together at Barnsley and his appetite now is the same as it was then. He has a real zest about him. He is a joy to work with."
Paul Cook: "It is tough for us at the moment but the lads are giving everything that they have got. Our season won't be defined by today. I think we can take great encouragement from the game in general and how we played.
"At the moment it is not happening for us in both boxes and to concede after eight minutes was a huge disappointment. For an away team I felt we did enough to possibly get something out of the game."