Wigan made the long trip to Fulham, with Roberto Martinez after the poor performance from a much changed team against Bournemouth, reverting back in the main to the team that started against Manchester United . The manager however also sprang a relative surprise in bringing in Jones for Kone with loan signing Henriquez having to be content with a place on the bench and much vaunted new signing Espinoza not even on the bench ahead of the misfiring Mauro Boselli.
This change of personnel sparked a more defensive formation with Di Santo operating alone up front supported by Maloney and Jones and the two Mc’s (Arthur and Carthy) providing support from midfield.
For Fulham Wigan old boy and former fan favourite Hugo Rodallega had to be content with a place on the bench.
The game started brightly with both sides passing the ball with aplomb and within the first five minutes both sides had had a chance; Duff broke through for the home side but was rightly ruled offside and for Wigan Maloney had a good chance with the penalty area but mis- hit his shot when he should have done better, the ball then fell to Di Santo who shot wide but fortunately to spare the Argentinean’s blushes he was offside so it wouldn’t have counted. Wigan grew in confidence and a long range shot came in from McArthur but was comfortably over the bar , causing Schwarzer no problems.
As so often this season James McCarthy a rumoured target for several Premier League sides was at the heart of all Latics good play, closing down the opposition and driving Wigan forward.
Fulham gradually grew into the game and after Maloney conceded a free kick in a dangerous position for a foul , the home team was relieved to see Petric’s free kick fly over Al Habsi’s bar. Fulham continued to press and a good flowing move saw the ball again at Petric’s feet but again the shot was off target.
The deadlock was broken with a wonderful shot from Kargounis, when the Greek international received the ball on the edge of the area, controlled it superbly and fired the ball unchallenged into the top corner of the goal and Wigan’s long run of 35 Premier League games without a scoreless draw continued.
Fulham continued to press with Wigan looking to break down their moves and counter attack and McArthur again was the man to test Schwarzer but again his shot wasn’t able to beat the big Australian who saved comfortably.
Wigan continued to strive to break down the home defence which looked shaky at best but as so often this season the final ball was left wanting. When a chance did come it was as the result of good work by Boyce and McArthur who threaded a ball into the area where it seemed all Di Santo who hadn’t scored in fourteen game had to do was stretch out a foot to equalise but he amazingly managed to scoop the ball over the bar.
With the home side looking more interested in their half time Bovril and Wigan seemingly unable to take their chances the half time whistle came without the scoreboard being troubled any further.
The second half started in much the same vein, Wigan trying to pass their way into the penalty area and Fulham using their pace to try and seal the win. For Wigan, Maloney looked the most likely to score with two shots in a space of five minutes and substitute Gomez and Di Santo were both reduced to shooting in vain from distance with Fulham content to defend deep and frustrate Wigan.
Di Santo had up to this point what could be best described as an off day ,however he never stopped trying and gained his reward when he received the ball from a quick free kick taken by Gomez, he cut inside and fired an unstoppable shot into the goal and Wigan had the equaliser that all their efforts deserved.
This gave Wigan the boost to their confidence that it deserved and they continued to press for the winner , Di Santo tried another shot from distance but this one saved by Schwarzer.
Wigan pushed forward again with Ramis breaking from the back, finding Beausejour whose cross was perfect for the onrushing Gomez but Hangeland did well to block the attempt.
Fulham’s chances were few and far between but almost got an undeserved reward when a cross from Riether took a severe deflection and Al Habsi had to be alert to palm the ball away.
Wigan and Di Santo continued to push forwards looking for a winner and the big Argentinean was unlucky again when a superb shot had to be brilliantly saved by Schwarzer.
Fulham tried to rally in the last few minutes held firm , the worrying action in the last few minutes was the stretchering off of Ramis with what is feared to be a serious injury to be replaced by Ronnie Stam.
This injury forced Wigan to defend deeper but Wigan’s defence superbly marshalled by Caldwell and when Ruiz thought he had scored a header off the line by Maynor Figueroa ensured that Wigan would leave Craven Cottage with a much deserved point which lifted them out of the bottom three.
Team Line Up;
Al Habsi, Ramis, Caldwell (c), Figueroa, Boyce, Beausejour, McArthur, McCarthy, Jones, Maloney, Di Santo.
Subs Used; Gomez for Jones ( 65 ), Stam for Ramis (90)
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