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Fulham earn away point

last updated Monday 09th November 2009, 4:13 PM


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James Standley at BBCSport


Wigan 1-1 Fulham


Wigan and Fulham remained locked together in mid-table after Sunday's draw in front of the lowest Premier League crowd of the season.

Only 16,172 were present to see Erik Nevland hit a post after 10 minutes.

Wigan went in front two minutes later as Emerson Boyce shot home from six yards but a Clint Dempsey penalty made it 1-1 at half-time.

There were further chances at either end but Mark Schwarzer and Chris Kirkland both produced fine saves.

The two sides were both determined to play a passing game and they each carved out decent chances.

But a lack of clinical finishing hampered them and illustrated why they went into the game in 11th and 12th respectively, with Fulham one place above their hosts.

The hosts enjoyed the upper hand for much of the afternoon and will be the unhappier with the result as the two closely-matched rivals fought out their fourth consecutive draw at Wigan.

Referee Mark Clattenburg was replaced at short notice by Phil Dowd - no explanation was given for the swap - and when the whistle blew it was Wigan who enjoyed the early pressure.

Fulham have only won once on the road in the Premier League this season, way back on the opening day, and they were content to set up their two banks of four and invite Wigan to try and play their way through.

The hosts tried to be patient but struggled to create any chances and it was Fulham who nearly took the lead against the run of play.

Bobby Zamora turned near the edge of the area and floated a delightful pass over the hosts' defence.

Nevland, who was sent off four minutes after coming on in the 2-1 Europa League defeat against Roma on Thursday and was only playing because Diomansy Kamara was injured in the same game, looped a header over Kirkland and was desperately unlucky to see it come back off the inside of the post.

Two of the last three meetings between the two teams in Wigan had ended 0-0 but any chance of a repeat was banished as the hosts went straight back down the other end and took the lead.

Fulham keeper Schwarzer was equal to the task when Mohamed Diame tried his luck with a 20-yarder but he could do nothing a minute later.

Paul Scharner headed a deep free-kick back across the six-yard box and Boyce teed the ball up with his first touch and shot home with the second to give the Latics the lead.

Two minutes later, Charles N'Zogbia cut in from the right and tried his luck with a curling left-footer from 25 yards but Schwarzer pulled off a fine save - one of a number he was to go on and produce - as he just managed to tip the ball on to the bar.

Fulham were struggling to make much of an impression, despite the promptings of the deep-lying Jonathan Greening, with Diame bossing the game for the hosts.

Wigan saw Hugo Rodallega twice threaten and Scharner head over as they continued to enjoy the upper hand but despite offering little in attack, Fulham levelled before the break.

Wigan defender Bramble had already nearly played in Damien Duff, who had shaken off an Achilles injury to play, and when he felled Dempsey as he tried to turn in the box Dowd had no doubt it was a penalty.

The American made no mistake to claim his third goal in as many games.

The visitors could have taken the lead 10 minutes into the second half but Kirkland saved Dempsey's free-kick and was quickly to his feet to keep out Greening's close-range follow-up.

Wigan then regained the upper hand and Schwarzer was forced into fine saves from Scharner and Hendry Thomas, who thundered a header from a corner straight at the keeper.

N'Zogbia was next to try his luck for Wigan, testing Schwarzer after an elusive 30 yard run, but the Australian saved low to his left.

As the final whistle approached Fulham enjoyed some promising moments and Duff and Dempsey rifled in shots, but the final word went to Wigan.

N'Zogbia curled in a free-kick but Schwarzer was more than equal to the task as the two sides fought out the latest in their series of draws at the renamed DW Stadium.

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez: "Mohamed Diame 's only 22 and he's still adapting to the British game, but he's someone who can go as high as he wants to go.

"I'm happy with the performance, but not the point.

"The difference between one point and three was Mark Schwarzer - his display was outstanding."

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson: "The club have been keen to organise a contract for me to stay longer, and I am not averse to the idea [of signing a one-year extension].

"I was very pleased with the point, especially after the excitement and pressure of the Liverpool game and the grave disappointment in Rome in midweek.

"It was more a 3-3 game than a 1-1, and Mark Schwarzer had to bring off some spectacular saves from their long-range shooting."
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