x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Baggies welcome change of Fortune

Fortune certainly favoured the brave as West Brom kept their Premier League survival hopes alive with a battling victory over Wigan.

Fortune is tugged by Wigan's Titus Bramble.
Fortune is tugged by Wigan's Titus Bramble.

BIRMINGHAM // Fortune certainly favoured the brave as West Brom kept their Premier League survival hopes alive with a battling victory over Wigan. The never-say-die Baggies are certainly not giving up their place in English football's elite without a fight and Marc Antoine Fortune's double strike could be worth a fortune to the Midlands side if they are to stay up.

The French-Guyana forward gave his side the lead after eight minutes with his first goal in three months and grabbed his second after 73 minutes to make the score 3-1. In between Hugo Rodallega had levelled the match for Wigan after 16 minutes before Chris Brunt restored West Brom's advantage on 58 minutes. Although West Brom had half an eye on the scoreline between Hull and Stoke City, they knew that every game they play is a must-win match.

And they took an early lead as Brunt latched on to a hopeful long ball and cut the Latics rearguard wide open with a sharp inside pass to Gianni Zuiverloon. The right-back's wicked shot was kept out by Chris Kirkland but Fortune reacted quickest at the far post to head into an unguarded net. That was former Baggies goalkeeper Kirkland's last action of the match as he limped off to be replaced by Ghanaian back-up Richard Kingson.

Kingson made an instant contribution on his first Premier League appearance in a Wigan shirt when he denied Juan Carlos Menseguez from close range after the on-loan Argentine delayed his shot. That was moments after counterpart Dean Kiely had produced a remarkable double save from Olivier Kapo and Paul Scharner following a Wigan corner. Kapo initially failed to take advantage of slack West Brom marking before Kiely smothered Scharner's bullet follow-up. However, the Frenchman was guilty of a ridiculous miss in the aftermath when the second rebound fell kindly for him but he impossibly struck the post from a yard out.

Kapo's blushes were spared soon after when Rodallega's 20-yard free-kick brought the equaliser as Kiely was stranded by a heavy deflection off Brunt. The ambition from both sides continued to lead to chances with Kingson the busier of the keepers, his one-handed save preventing Fortune doubling Albion's tally four minutes before the break. Menseguez might have made more of Brunt's superb through ball after the interval as West Brom pushed forward. Jonathan Greening also spurned an opportunity to test rookie keeper Kingson.

Kiely kept Albion in the contest when Mario Melchiot found space in the box, but the helpless keeper could only watch as Scharner's near-post flick drifted inches wide from the resulting corner. Greening drew another acrobatic save from Kingson after a breathless sprint left Melchiot in his wake before West Brom retook the lead from Brunt's penalty. The referee Peter Walton pointed to the spot after Maynor Figu-eroa made a mess of challenging Fortune on the by-line and Titus Bramble mistimed his subsequent tackle to bring down the striker.

Brunt scored from the spot, but only after Kingson guessed the right way to parry his initial effort. Then Fortune had the final say when he netted his second goal of the game with a shot from just outside the box to keep the Baggies dream alive. @Email:sports@thenational.ae