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Wigan 0-0 Fulham: Cottagers happy with point

last updated Saturday 17th March 2007, 10:16 PM
Papa Bouba Diop
Papa Bouba Diop goes closest for Fulham  

Wigan and Fulham each nudged a point closer to Premiership survival after dredging up a goalless draw of almost unimaginable tedium at a drizzly JJB Stadium.

Latics chairman Dave Whelan had slashed admission prices in a bid to boost attendances, but on this evidence he may have to pay fans to attend next season's equivalent top-flight fixture.

After Emile Heskey had squandered the best chance in the fifth minute when he aimed a header straight at Antti Niemi, neither side was able to fashion a single on-target shot between them.

Chris Coleman's men had plainly headed north seeking the point which almost guarantees their safety and offered nothing other than Papa Bouba Diop's prod over the bar.

It was all frustrating for the home side, who had put daylight between themselves and the drop zone on the back of two straight wins, and had started confident of continuing that success.

It was no wonder, as Coleman's sinking side had faded after a bright start to the season and just one away win in 15 previous attempts made them the Premiership's worst travellers.

Match Stats Wigan Fulham
Goals 0 0
Possession 49% 51%
Goal attempts 7 3
On Target 3 0
Corners 7 1
Off-sides 6 4
Fouls 13 6
Yellows 1 0
Reds 0 0
source: Soccernet

The home side were given freedom to assert early pressure, David Unsworth's low third-minute cross just eluding both Heskey and Caleb Folan in front of goal.

Antonio Valencia's tenacity secured Wigan a second chance two minutes later when he dispossessed Franck Queudrue on the right flank and crossed to Heskey, who headed straight at Niemi.

Alexey Smertin needed a timely interception to prevent Denny Landzaat enjoying a free run into the box as Jewell's men continue to show plenty of attacking endeavour.

Fulham, however, looked feeble, and must remain grateful for their impressive early form for keeping them hovering just above the relegation dogfight.

Wigan came close again in the 18th minute when Valencia's ball into the box was only partially cleared to Landzaat, who prodded a poor effort wide of target.

Unsworth continued to exploit the space afforded him on the home side's left flank well and almost created a goal out of nothing in the 23rd minute when his lofted cross almost caught out Niemi.

One minute later Fulham created a rare attacking opportunity with McBride getting behind the home defence and crossing to Diop, who poked his shot well over the crossbar from 10 yards.

There were worrying moments for the home side in the 28th minute when Folan, who was called up by Ireland for the first time last week, was stretchered off after an accidental clash with Carlos Bocanegra.

Folan appeared to have fallen awkwardly on his right ankle and was immediately replaced by Henri Camara, although early indications were he had suffered nothing more than bruising.

With the home side losing their momentum and the visitors clearly settled for holding out for a point, the game descended into a dreadfully unambitious encounter.

What few chances there were came from Wigan. Substitute Camara did his best to create an opening in the 57th minute when he sent Heskey scuttling through, but Niemi beat him to the ball.

Wigan perked up one minute later when Valencia's first cross bobbled dangerously across the face of goal, and moments later his second struck Camara, who was unable to deflect it into an unguarded net.

Wigan manager Paul Jewell described his side's goalless draw with Fulham at the JJB Stadium today as 'rubbish' - but demanded more of the same to ensure Barclays Premiership survival.

Entertainment took a back seat to the practicality of two struggling sides edging further away from the drop zone, with neither side managing a shot on target in the final 85 minutes of the match.

Jewell admitted: 'The only good thing is that we are a point nearer safety. If we play eight more awful games like that and get eight more points, we will be okay.

'You think back to the games against Chelsea and Arsenal when we played so well and got nothing. Today we played nowhere near as well as that, but we got a point.'

But there was bad news for striker Caleb Folan, whose recent run of good fortune came to a sad end when he was carried off after a first half collision with Carlos Bocanegra.

Folan's fine form had earned him his first Republic of Ireland call-up for the forthcoming double-header against Wales and Slovakia - but Jewell believes that chance has passed him by.

Folan headed for hospital for X-rays on his injured ankle which is believed bruised rather than broken, but Jewell admitted: 'I wouldn't have thought he had any chance of going with Ireland.

'It just shows you the highs and lows of this game. Two weeks ago he scored the winner against Manchester City and got picked for Ireland, and then this happens to him.'

Wigan: Filan, Taylor, De Zeeuw, Jackson, Unsworth, Valencia, Landzaat (Scharner 78), Skoko, Kilbane, Heskey, Folan (Camara 31).
Subs Not Used: Nash, Aghahowa, Cotterill.

Booked: Valencia.

Fulham: Niemi, Rosenior, Bocanegra, Pearce, Queudrue, Smertin, Davies, Diop, Brown, Radzinski (John 82), McBride (Helguson 67).
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Routledge, Dempsey.

Att: 16,001.

Ref: S Tanner (Somerset)

Source soccernet
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