Relief for Wolves, woe for Wigan
Wolverhampton Wanderers boosted their bid to avoid relegation from the Premier League with a crucial 3-1 win over fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic at Molineux.
Mick McCarthy's team started the day just three points ahead of bottom-of-the-table Wigan, but goals from Jamie O'Hara, David Edwards and Stephen Ward secured their third league win of the season.
That lifted Wolves into 13th place and gave McCarthy some much-needed breathing space after a stormy few weeks for the manager, who was jeered by his club's supporters during a 2-2 draw against Swansea City. While Wolves are looking up, Wigan face a long battle to stay in the top flight after their eighth defeat in 11 league games.
Roberto Martinez's side are already five points from safety and that gap will only increase unless they improve on this tepid display. Wolves were the first to threaten and Edwards made a good run into the space behind Kevin Doyle and forced Ali Al Habsi to parry away his shot.
McCarthy's men looked to have strong claims for a penalty after five minutes when Al Habsi appeared to trip Stephen Hunt as the Irish winger took the ball past him. However, Hunt commendably stayed on his feet and referee Lee Probert waved play on despite the protests of the Wolves players.
O'Hara opens the scoring
Wigan striker Hugo Rodallega squandered a golden opportunity when Franco Di Santo robbed Richard Stearman and found the Colombian unmarked eight yards from goal. It seemed harder to miss than score but Rodallega did just that, poking his tame effort wide to the delight of the home fans.
Those supporters were celebrating again seconds later as O'Hara opened the scoring in the 31st minute. Wayne Hennessey's clearance was flicked on by Adlene Guedioura to Doyle and his cross was calmly steered in from close range by O'Hara for his third goal in four games.
But four minutes before half-time Ben Watson levelled for Wigan after Hunt brought down Emmerson Boyce inside the box. Hennessey saved Watson's spot-kick but the former Crystal Palace midfielder was able to convert the rebound.
McCarthy responded by sending on Matt Jarvis for Guedioura at half-time and the switch eventually gave Wolves more attacking purpose. They regained the lead in the 55th minute thanks to an incisive run from Karl Henry, who jinked his way to the byline before cutting the ball back to Hunt.
Al Habsi saved Hunt's effort and then the follow-up from O'Hara but Edwards was on hand to drive the loose ball into the net. And Wolves effectively finished off the Latics in the 66th minute when Ward's deflected close-range shot beat Al Habsi after efforts from Edwards and O'Hara were only half-cleared.