Fulham took all three points from this relegation battle six pointer, a result which all but the most one eyed Cottager will agree that they didn’t deserve as Wigan peppered toe Fulham goal without success and Fulham scored two goals from three attempts, both due to Wigan mistakes.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez opted to keep faith with the side that performed so well against Newcastle last week with Di Santo being restored to the bench but McCarthy failing a late fitness test.
Wigan started the brighter, indeed Fulham’s only effort of note in the first forty minutes was a powerful header which Al Habsi saved comfortably, from Wigan’s own right back Emerson Boyce !
Wigan looked a far more balanced team than of late with Figueroa and Boyce pushing forward in support of the attacking wing play of Crusat and Moses respectively and Jones providing an attackingmidfield foil for the more defensive attributes of Watson.
Fulham set there stall out very early on when an over physical challenge by Grygera on Diame within the first two minutes earned the defender a yellow card. Within twelve minutes Diame was forced to limp off being replaced by Wigan’s very own Scots terrier James McArthur. Any fears that this enforced substitution would disrupt Wigan’s pattern of play were laid to rest as McArthur’s neat simple and most of all quick passing facilitated some of Wigan’s best moves.
Latics failure to score goals would once again come back to haunt them as Jones twice narrowly missed the goal. Boyce showed his worth and never say die commitment when he broke down the right, recovered the ball when all seemed lost and fired over a cross which Rodallega just failed to connectwith.
There has been speculation this week as to when Wigan last scored from a corner and today they came oh so close. Jones took a corner and Caldwell rose unmarked and headed past the goal when it seemed easier to score.
Watson had a shot which Schwarzer saved well and then a spectacular scissors kick from Rodallega went over the bar and it seemed only a matter of time beforeWigan scored.
Thankfully I didn’t bet my mortgage on it. A long punt up field towards the left wing from Murphy following a Wigan attack saw Zamora beat the offside trap with Caldwell playing him onside. Zamora left the struggling Wigan defence for dead and passed inside for Dempsey and the United States forward was left with an easy tap in.
Half time arrived and the Wigan players trooped off the pitch wondering what they had to do to score.
The second half started much the same as the first with Wigan pouring forward in search of an equaliser and Fulham seemingly hell bent on time wasting as much as possible. They were helped in this by referee Mr Jones whose ignorance of the advantage rule was an embarrassment as on three occasions he pulled a Wigan move back to award the home side a free kick thereby costingWigan the momentum.
Even so Wigan had their chances Rodallega forcing a good save from Schwarzer and Moses and Figueroa hitting the woodwork from close and long range respectively.
Wigan opted to remove Crusat from the fray, introducing Di Santo up front and Rodallega moving onto the left wing. This seemed to loser Wigan the momentum and gave the ponderous
Fulham side time to break down the Wigan attacks, looking to catch the home side on the break which they almost did on two occasions beating the offside trap, exposing Caldwell
Wigan still had the better of the chances, Moses broke down the right and a shot from near the dead ball line skimmed off the bar and a wonder shot from well outside the area left Schwarzer
for dead but hit the far post and came back out.
Wigan kept pushing forward in search of the equaliser and as so often happens the side desperately defending sealed the deal. Wigan tried one to intricate passes to many in
midfield, Figueroa was robbed in midfield by Sidwell. Wigan’s defence stood off him allowing him to put the ball through to Dembele who made no mistake firing the ball home.
Latics huffed and puffed but couldn’t find a goal and the final whistle saw several players sink to the floor dejected. No one could fault the commitment and effort of the Wigan team today but the statistics of failing to score in five of the ten league games this season ,scoring only six
goals in the process and conceding in nine of the ten games this season so far means
that Wigan’s chances of staying in the Premier League for an eight successive season seem slim indeed.
Al Habsi….7 had little to do except pick the ball out of the net.
Boyce…….7 never say die attitude an inspiration
Caldwell…5 caught out playing Fulham players onside, too slow
Figueroa…6 Fantastic shot but caught out of position too often
Moses…7.5 Attacked well, sometimes chose the wrong pass
Diame……5 Wasn’t on the pitch long enough to make an impression
Jones…….7 Played well.
Crusat……7 can consider himself unlucky to be substituted.
Rodallega..7 wastes too many good chances.
McArthur…8 excellent performance in defence and attack
Stam………6 put a fantastic cross over in second half but as so often no one there.
Di Santo…..5 did very little
Man of the Match….James McArthur
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