Wigan 1 Middlesbrough 0
By ADAM STEEL
MIDDLESBROUGH suffered their second defeat in as many games when they went down 0-1 against Wigan.
Gareth Southgate stuck with the same line-up that lost to Blackburn with both Boro and Wigan looking for their first points of the season at the JJB Stadium.
That meant 20-year-old David Wheater kept his place alongside Chris Riggott in the heart of the Boro defence after an impressive display against Rovers.
Southgate's bench also had exactly the same look to it, with South Korean Dong-Gook Lee again among the substitutes.
Wigan made just one change, drafting in Antoine Sibierski for his full debut after the Frenchman scored a late consolation in the Latics' defeat at Everton.
The former Newcastle forward replaced Caleb Folan, who dropped out of the squad altogether, with David Cotterill named in Chris Hutchings' 16 at Folan's expense.
Egyptian striker Mido was spotted pitchside by the Sky TV cameras before kick-off, with the 24-year-old expected to wrap up an imminent move to the Riverside after a medical yesterday.
Wigan were first to raid into the opposition box but Koumas' reverse ball intended for Sibierski was mopped up by the Boro defence and the danger passed.
The Latics came again soon after but Kilbane's cross to the back post drifted straight behind for a Boro goal-kick.
Wigan meant business in the opening exchanges and Sibierski might have done better when he cracked a fourth minute shot over the crossbar from Valencia's angled pass.
Aliadiere won the game's first corner off Scharner on nine minutes after a sharp one-two with Tuncay down the right, but Kirkland comfortably caught Downing's flag-kick in the middle of his area.
Tuncay fouled Koumas down the left channel and Schwarzer raced off his line to beat Sibierski to Kilbane's free-kick.
Down at the other end, Bramble conceded another free-kick when he bowled over Yakubu.
But Downing's delivery was nodded clear by Kilbane and Yakubu fouled Granqvist when the ball was pumped back in.
Koumas then won Wigan's first corner off Davies after 19 minutes but the Boro defence held firm after he knocked it short to Kilbane, who whipped the ball goalwards.
Wigan created a good chance to break the deadlock a couple of minutes later when Landzaat fired a snapshot wide of the far upright after Heskey nodded down Kilbane's free-kick.
Wigan soon won another corner, with Schwarzer inexplicably punching the ball back to taker Koumas.
But Valencia was penalised for a foul on Boateng when the ball worked out wide, much to the home fans' disgust.
Koumas then led Boro's defence a merry dance with a winding run before Taylor checked his progress in the area.
Boro were now under the cosh however and when Arca fouled Melchiot 25 yards from goal, Schwarzer pulled off a smart save to beat out Koumas' free-kick for a corner.
A mistake by Arca then let in Valencia, who drilled a right-foot shot across the face of the target and narrowly wide.
Tuncay had Boro's first effort of note, a curling left-footer wide that earned him an ear-bashing from Yakubu.
Aliadiere then fired a dangerous ball across the face of the Wigan area.
Arca swept it to Downing, whose shot was blocked by a fantastic full-stretch challenge from Melchiot.
Valencia was looking lively for the hosts and when he fed Heskey inside the area, the former Liverpool striker's first-time effort bounced away off Riggott.
Play was now switching from end to end, with Koumas drawing a low stop from Schwarzer.
Tuncay had a great chance when Granqvist knocked his cross straight back into his path, but the Turk lacked composure and blazed wildly off target.
Schwarzer held a bobbling Sibierski strike when the Latics came again.
And Tuncay received the game's first booking seven minutes before the break for a wild touchline lunge on Kilbane.
Boro had been subdued as an attacking force in an opening period which the Latics dictated.
Half-time: Wigan 0, Boro
Boro created a promising early attack after the re-start when Tuncay found Downing on the left, but the Teessider's cross was headed to safety by Melchiot.
Koumas was still the most creative player on the pitch though and Schwarzer was forced to save low when he let fly again from distance.
Landzaat was next to try his luck for the home side, only to see his goalbound strike clatter into team-mate Sibierski.
Arca tried to get a Boro breakaway going but saw the door slammed shut by a thundering Bramble tackle in the centre circle.
Boro striker Yakubu was doing nothing to make Everton firm up their interest in him, looking listless and lethargic.
And Wigan took a 55th minute lead they fully deserved through SIBIERSKI.
Schwarzer was unable to hold Valencia's stinging low shot and the Frenchman pounced from close range to scramble the loose ball home.
Boro tried to hit back immediately and Tuncay's left-foot shot from inside the area deflected behind for a corner.
Southgate's men were suddenly playing with more urgency after going a goal behind and Downing smashed a fizzing left foot shot against the base of Kirkland's near post.
Wigan launched a swift counter, Valencia seeing his close-range shot ricochet over the bar off Taylor.
Kilbane's cross from Koumas' shortly-taken flag-kick was met by some last-ditch defending, then Aliadiere cut inside Landzaat to draw Kirkland's first save - an easy one at that.
Both sides made changes, Lee coming on for the disappointing Yakubu and Aghahowa replacing Sibierski, who had picked up a knock.
But it was Wigan who continued to look the more threatening and Melchiot headed on to the roof of an empty net from Koumas' free-kick.
With 20 minutes to go, Boro fans booed Southgate's decision to bring off Tuncay and replace him with Johnson.
Wigan created another chance when Melchiot's pass sent Heskey racing away down the right.
The former Liverpool man could not keep his lob on target however and collided with Schwarzer straight after shooting.
Johnson picked up Boro's second booking for a foul on Kilbane and Scharner hit an effort into the advertising hoardings after Riggott headed into his path.
At the other end, Kilbane was next to have his named added to the referee's notebook when he brought down Johnson, shortly followed by Arca for a foul on Valencia.
Southgate made a last throw of the dice when he brought on Cattermole for Aliadiere with three minutes to go.
But Boro were unable to find a way back and could have conceded again in added time when Heskey drilled wide and Scharner hit the side netting.
Full-time: Wigan 1, Boro 0
WIGAN: Chris Kirkland; Mario Melchiot (c); Titus Bramble; Andreas Granqvist; Kevin Kilbane; Antonio Valencia; Denny Landzaat; Paul Scharner; Jason Koumas; Antoine Sibierski; Emile Heskey.
Substitutes: Mike Pollitt; Fitz Hall; Josip Skoko; David Cotterill; Julius Aghahowa.
BORO: Mark Schwarzer; Andrew Davies; Chris Riggott; David Wheater; Andrew Taylor; Tuncay Sanli; George Boateng (c); Julio Arca; Stewart Downing; Yakubu; Jeremie Aliadiere.
Substitutes: Brad Jones; Seb Hines; Lee Cattermole; Adam Johnson; Dong-Gook Lee.
Referee: S Tanner