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Fulham spirits restored by Schwarzer

last updated Monday 09th November 2009, 4:11 PM
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David Facey at SunSport


Wigan 1 Fulham 1


MARK SCHWARZER produced a string of world-class saves to restore Fulham's spirits after their 'Roman Holiday' turned sour in midweek. Chris Kirkland was not too shabby in the home goal either.

A meagre crowd of 16,172 were treated to a fast and furious encounter, full of efforts on goal.

It looked like the odd 172 might have been the number of Fulham fans, judging by the tight-knit group huddling behind the goal they defended in the first half.

But if you have a choice of Rome for a Europa Cup match, or Wigan on a damp and dreary Sunday, it must be the ultimate no-brainer.

Fulham could have been forgiven for showing signs of a hangover from a 2-1 defeat to Roma where they surrendered an early lead and had two players sent off.

But Schwarzer was certainly not feeling sorry for himself. He denied Charles N'Zogbia, twice, Hugo Rodallega, Paul Scharner and Titus Bramble.

Kirkland responded, excelling himself to keep out Clint Dempsey's free-kick and getting back on his feet to smother Jonathan Greening's effort from the rebound.

Dempsey did get his name on the scoresheet as he earned - and converted - a 39th-minute penalty to cancel out Emmerson Boyce's 13th-minute goal.

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson was happy with a point. But he grinned: "That felt more like a 3-3 than a 1-1 but a point is good after the week we've had.

"We followed an excellent win over Liverpool with a long trip to Rome, where we felt we were robbed after being badly treated by the match officials yet again.

"Wigan are a difficult proposition on their own patch.

"Schwarzer produced some spectacular saves but we always looked dangerous."

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez did not quite see it the same way.

He said: "I was happy with our performance but not with a point.

"The difference between one and three points was Schwarzer. If young goalkeepers want to see how they can affect the scoreline of a game, they should study his display.

"If you play the way we did out there for 10 games, you will win eight and draw the other two. He made sure this was one of those other two occasions."

Wigan may have done the bulk of the attacking but they were lucky not to be a goal down before Boyce's strike as Erik Nevland missed an absolute sitter just two minutes earlier.

After Bobby Zamora's clever flick, Nevland had the whole goal to aim at but sent his effort crashing off the inside of the far post.

Boyce was far more decisive with his finish, rifling home after Scharner nodded down from Erik Edman's lofted cross.

Defender Boyce only ventured upfield for a corner conceded when John Pantsil hit into the stands when he was 20 yards from his own goal.

That sparked Wigan's best spell, with N'Zogbia's piledriver bringing the first stunner from Schwarzer.

Rodellega then worked a neat one-two with Jason Scotland and forced Fulham's Aussie keeper into a good stop low to his right.

Martinez was entitled to wonder whether his defenders had gone to sleep as Dempsey collected Damien Duff's free-kick five yards out.

He prepared to pull the trigger and there was no disputing the penalty award as Bramble dived in.

The American sent Kirkland the wrong way and then it was a case of punch and counter-punch.

But the two keepers bravely stood up to everything that was thrown at them to keep the score down.

STAR MAN - MARK SCHWARZER

WIGAN: Kirkland 7, Melchiot 6, Boyce 7, Bramble 5, Edman 5 (Sinclair 6), N'Zogbia 8, Thomas 6, Scharner 9, Diame 5, Rodallega 7, Scotland 5 (Koumas 6).
Subs not used: Pollitt, Amaya, Cho, Gomez, De Ridder.

Booked: Edman, Bramble.

FULHAM: Schwarzer 9, Pantsil 7, Hangeland 7, Hughes 6, Konchesky 6, Dempsey 7, Baird 7, Greening 5 (Etuhu 5), Duff 8, Zamora 6, Nevland 7 (Gera 5).
Subs not used: Zuberbuhler, Kelly, Riise, Smalling, Dikgacoi.

Booked: Etuhu.
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