The Capital One Cup may never be valued as one of football's most coveted prizes but a collected Wigan produced a level of distinction that was too much for West Ham. They completed a 4-1 victory over the hosts after the goalkeeper Stephen Henderson brought down James McArthur and Jordi Gómez converted the penalty in the 84th minute.
Mauro Boselli, with two goals, delighted his manager, Roberto Martínez. The Argentinian's impact has been far from immediate and he even left Wigan last season for a loan spell in his own country with Estudiantes. On this occasion, though, he looked as if nothing could please him more than being in his present side.
"He looked strong, he looked very sharp," said Martínez. "I was very, very pleased with his work, it is now a matter of allowing him to settle into the Premier League.
"With both teams making a lot of changes you knew it was going to be an open game," Martínez added. "The young lads reacted well and we had a real threat going forward. Every time we got into the last third we looked very confident. Four goals away from home is a real achievement, especially at West Ham."
Boselli has only ever scored for Wigan in this competition but it is a specialty to be appreciated by his employers. Although this might not have been the most prestigious occasion, the line-ups had been much altered and there was a sense of visiting players in a hurry to make their mark.
The occasion carried meaning for West Ham's Modibo Maïga, the forward whose previous goal for the club had come in this competition. He found it fruitful territory once again when he fired home a low shot in the seventh minute.
Wigan soon levelled and were 3-1 ahead by half-time. There was a sense of adventure, with players involved who craved impact as they strove to impress in the starting line-up. Wigan, for instance, allowed Adrián López, Callum McManaman and Ryo Miyaichi to start for the first time. The match, understandably, was hard to predict and all the more engaging for it.
Sam Allardyce, the West Ham manager, blamed himself for making many alterations but he did not forget to castigate some of his men who had been given an invitation to impress and misused it. "We couldn't defend a fish supper," he complained. "It tells me about the players. They can't knock on my door and tell me they should be playing."
Wigan equalised in the 14th minute when a low delivery by McManaman was knocked home by Boselli. The visitors then took the lead when Iván Ramis was permitted to saunter from the centre of the pitch and score his first goal for the club from around 20 yards. This was hardly what had been anticipated from the hosts, even if this was not their best line-up.
Wigan were 3-1 ahead when Boselli broke through for his second goal as he placed his finish beyond Henderson shortly before the interval. West Ham might not place this tournament high in their priorities but defeat still grates. Allardyce had brought about a rise in tempo after half-time but the impact was slight.
This occasion was deemed not to matter so very much and it is true that there were no signs of insurrection among West Ham's followers, but a tournament ought to matter since on the domestic scene there are only three competitions to engage players and supporters.
Wigan enjoyed this outing. With luck, it may even send them back to the Premier League with a bounce in their step. If so, there may be a realisation that the lowliest competition involving the Premier League clubs still has its place in the order of football. The blend of competitiveness and the knowledge that the outcome cannot wreck a career means that it is possible to enjoy the contest for its own sake.
No matter what happens, it is virtually impossible for the result in this cup to cast a shadow over a team or a player who has gone through a bad night.
The one irritation for the visiting supporters may have been the journey home but at least they had the solace of victory.
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