A late penalty converted by Ruiz following the red card to Leon Barnett saw Fulham snatch a draw that their enterprise deserved as Wigan secured their four home draw on the trot.
Manager Uwe Rosler opted to retain the same starting line up from the excellent win last time out at Derby, the only changes being the recall on the bench of Nicholls in place of out on loan Al Habsi and the return onto the bench of fit again Ramis in place of Riera
The game started off at a high tempo with the midfield of Huws and Forshaw looking to test itself against the experienced international pairing of Ruiz and the wily Scott Parker Wigan drew first blood when McManaman burst into the penalty area, nudged the ball forwards and then went down over the lunging leg of Stafylidis, the referee having had no doubt as to the validity of McManaman’s claim and immediately pointed to the spot. Adam Forshaw stepped up as the third choice penalty taker of the season and for the first time this season the Wigan fans were left celebrating the successful conversion of a penalty The game continued in the same open fashion with Wigan looking particularly vulnerable down the right with Cowie and Tavernier often caught out positionally and for pace as Fulham poured forwards in search of an equaliser with Latics’ old boy Hugo Rodellega looking particularly dangerous with his anticipatory play and pace causing no ends of problems from Wigan’s often static centre halves.
This lack of pace and mobility from the Wigan defence was exposed when a precision pass from the Columbian freed Christiansen who beat two defenders before slotting the ball past Carson with ease to give the away side an equaliser their enterprise deserved. One all quickly became a two one lead to Fulham when a McCormack cross was completely misjudged by Carson and was turned home by Ruiz.
Wigan rallied and looked to press for the equaliser with Forshaw looking to drive the side forwards and Fortune an ever willing target man but the half time whistle blew with Wigan still trailing The second half started off in the same fast paced, frenetic entertaining fashion with for Wigan McManaman and Espinoza looking dangerous, the former supplying a superb cross which just bypassed the outstretched head of Don Cowie.
For the away side McCormack tested Carson with a powerful shot which the former England keeper did well to save
The equaliser for Wigan when it came was a fantastic shot which could be filed under the category of unstoppable when the effervescent Honduran unleashed a twenty five yard pile-driver which beat Bettinelli and the crowd went into raptures at such a wonderous goal from one of their favourites.
Neither team looked to settle for a point and the game ebbed and flowed. The tempo of the game changed a few minutes later when a clash between McCormack and McClean saw both players lean into each other with their heads. Both players earned a yellow, however as McCormack had recently been booked for a foul on Tavernier, the Scotsman earned himself an early bath. Wigan’s enterprising start to the second half was rewarded two minutes later, with a superb volley from Roger Espinoza. The midfielder rewarded his manager’s decision to keep him in the starting line up with an expertly taken volley from the edge of the area, which darted into the bottom right hand corner. Wigan looked to maintain their momentum in the search for a winner by introducing Maloney off the bench for McManaman. Rosler’s substitution immediately bore fruit when a superb defence splitting pass from Espinoza found Maloney who passed the ball intot eh net with aplomb
This should have been the sign to “shut up shop” and see the game out but Wiagn continued to play an open game and an error by Kiernan allowed Rodallega to get goal side of Barnett and as the striker burst into the penalty area, the Wigan skipper lunged to attempt to sweep the ball away to safety. Unfortunately he missed and Rodallega went down under the challenge, earning the away side a penalty and the Wigan skipper an early exit from proceedings.
Ruiz stepped up sending Carson the wrong way to bring the game level at three all and despite six minutes of extra time both teams had to settle for a point apeice, which although could be seen as a fitting reard for their endeavours, does nothing for wither team’s ambitions of a return to the Premier League.
Team Line up and Player Ratings
Carson……5, not his best game, poor with the first two goals.
Tavernier……5, had a torrid first half, improved after the break.
Barnett….0, sent off for professional foul
Kiernan……5, poor decision making and positional play Figueroa……6, solid and dependable.
Cowie……5, looks out of play on the wing.
Huws…..6.5, growing in stature (withdrawn)
Forshaw…..7, his best game in a Wigan shirt
McManaman……6.5., some good creative (withdrawn)
Espinoza……7.5, MOM gave everything and scored a superb goal.( withdrawn)
Fortune……7, didn’t look like scoring but could be faulted for his effort and creative play
Subs Used. McClean for Huws….6, fiesty and committed.
Maloney for McManaman…6, took his goal well.
Ramis for Espinoza……N/A
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