Bruce gives old club the Blues
Steve Bruce put one over his former club as Wigan eased to a 2-0 victory over Birmingham at the JJB.
Last Updated: 05/04/08 6:46pm
Steve Bruce put one over his former club as Wigan Athletic eased to a 2-0 victory over Birmingham City at the JJB Stadium.
Ryan Taylor scored both of Wigan's goals to move his side eight points clear of the relegation zone as Birmingham had captain Damien Johnson sent off in the first half.
After a scrappy opening, the breakthrough arrived on 15 minutes when Ryan Taylor thumped in a low shot following good work by Antonio Valencia.
Birmingham, who had Martin Taylor back in the team for the first time since his red card against Arsenal, saw Johnson dismissed on 37 minutes for a wild lunge on Kevin Kilbane.
The Wigan full-back then hit the post before Ryan Taylor wrapped up the win 10 minutes into the second half with a scruffy effort from close range after Maik Taylor had made a double save.
After an opening 10 minutes bereft of quality, a Latics free-kick eventually led to the first chance of the game.
Blues failed to clear Ryan Taylor's centre and Mario Melchiot's cutback was blazed over from eight yards by Marcus Bent.
On 15 minutes, Antonio Valencia showed great vision to pick out Ryan Taylor at the far post following a superb jinking run down the right.
On his weaker left foot, Taylor confidently finished first time into the bottom corner - his first goal since Boxing Day.
Moment of madness
Valencia was rampant and Wigan could have been 2-0 up when his cross-cum-shot was parried out by Maik Taylor.
But the rebound arrived too quickly for Bent to react and Heskey saw his follow-up blocked.
Birmingham's first shot on target was a 25th-minute Gary McSheffrey effort straight at Chris Kirkland from 20 yards.
With less than 10 minutes of the half remaining, the game was interrupted by a major flashpoint thanks to Johnson's moment of madness.
Johnson, who threw his armband off in disgust as he left the field, got plenty of the ball but the recklessness of his tackle on Kilbane warranted his dismissal.
Just moments later, Kilbane struck the post with a well-struck effort from the edge of the area before Birmingham almost equalised before half-time when Mauro Zarate's cute attempt was tipped wide by Kirkland.
Heskey could have doubled Wigan's advantage straight from the restart, the England striker shrugging off his marker and firing a left-foot half-volley wide.
It was a further 10 minutes before the second goal arrived via one of the untidiest goals of the season.
Valencia's cross was nodded off target by Bent but Wigan somehow stopped the ball going behind and it found its way back to the goalmouth.
A major scramble ensued, which Ryan Taylor won to force the ball over the line after his first attempt had been saved by Maik Taylor, who had also denied Heskey from close range.
Martin Taylor prevented a third goal when he got back on the line to clear Bent's lob after his keeper had come rushing out.
Shortly past the hour mark, Kirkland was nearly caught out by a Mikael Forssell back-header which landed inches wide.
Valencia man of the match by a mile, continued to torment the visiting defence and Josip Skoko should have found the target from the winger's low cross.
Bruce permitted match-winner Taylor a standing ovation by replacing him with six minutes remaining and no-one would have argued had Valencia been afforded the same luxury.
|Wigan Athletic||Team Statistics||Birmingham City|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|9||Shots on Target||1|
|7||Shots off Target||5|