Wigan Athletic have made a habit of late-season escapes from the drop, but this time the odds are really against them with all of the sides around them in decent form. It was no surprise, then, to see the Latics fly out of the traps and immediately put pressure on the hosts from kick-off. Shaun Maloney had an opportunity to break the deadlock early on after escaping the Hammers' backline, but Jussi Jaaskelainen was alert to deny him the chance.
Wigan's initial attacking spirit seemed to peter out disappointingly quickly, and the home side always looked a threat - Matt Jarvis' delivery into the box was met with a trademark late run from Kevin Nolan, but Joel Robles managed to keep his goalbound header out. Jarvis continued to pose a threat, and the Hammers surprisingly took the lead when a low in-swinging cross from the former Wolves winger eluded everybody in the box, Nolan and Mohamed Diame swinging at fresh air, and rolled into the far corner.
The portents were bad for Wigan at half-time, with relegation rivals Stoke and Sunderland enjoying the lead in their respective games, so something different was needed for the second half. Wigan just about edged the play and certainly created more chances, but none were clear - a series of saves from Jaaskelainen denied the increasingly-desperate Latics as time began to run out, with there being no help from the opponents of their neighbours in the table.
Nonetheless, pressure was building for the visitors, and Jaaskelainen made his best save of the day as two Scots combined when the excellent Shaun Maloney found James McArthur with his cutback, but the West Ham 'keeper somehow kept his shot out from 10 yards. Yet a sucker punch soon finished off the Latics hope of gaining something from the game, through a familiar goal - Andy Carroll heading on a free-kick for Nolan to hook home and deal a terrible blow to Wigan's survival hopes.