Points shared at the DW in relegation battleA late equalizer from Fulham's Andy Johnson earned the Cottagers a 1-1 draw against relegation rivals Wigan at the DW Stadium. The game lacked much in the way of clear cut chances but it was sparked into life with Hugo Rodallega’s neat lob in the 58th minute but a late strike by Johnson meant the points were shared.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez made two changes from the side who drew with Bolton last time out in the Premier League, with Mohamed Diame coming in for James McArthur who dropped to the bench and Charles N’Zogbia returned to the side following his three match suspension in place of the injured Tom Cleverley. Martinez was also able to welcome back on-loan Chelsea striker Franco Di Santo following injury but the youngster was only fit enough to make the substitutes bench.
Mark Hughes named an unchanged line-up from the side who thrashed Peterborough 6-2 in the FA Cup last weekend. That meant no debut for new signing Steve Sidwell who had to make do with a place on the bench. Alongside him was Mousa Dembele who returned to the match day squad following his recent injury.
The opening stages of the match were quite cagey as neither team wanted to give the other any chances to gain an early advantage and it wasn’t until the 10th minute that the game had it’s first clear cut chance. The lively N’Zgobia and Figueroa combined down the left wing before the full back delivered a cross to the edge of the penalty area for the arriving Rodallega, the Colombian met the ball on the volley but although he caught it cleanly his direction was off and the ball fizzed wide.
It wasn’t until the 27th minute that the game had it’s second chance of the match, and again it fell to the home side after a neat passing move. The Latics played the ball out of defense before Watson released Stam down the right wing with an excellent through ball, the midfielder steadied himself before delivering a perfect cross onto the head of Rodallega but from seven yards he saw his effort crash against the post. From the rebound N’Zogbia wasn’t able to get the ball under control quick enough and his effort was easily blocked by the recovering Fulham defenders.
Five minutes later Fulham had their first sight of goal in the game and it should have been the opening goal. Clint Dempsey received the ball in the center circle and played a through ball behind the Wigan defense for Damien Duff to run onto. The Irishman had time to compose himself but his low shot was poor and easily saved by Al Habsi with his legs.
After a first half lacking chances the second half started with both teams looking to get that all important first goal, and it was the hosts who got it in the 58th minute thanks to a bit of route one football. A long kick out of defense by Al Habsi was misjudged in the air by Aaron Hughes which allowed Rodallega to get on to the loose ball and lob the ball over the advancing Stockdale from seven yards.
The goal naturally sparked Fulham into life and eight minutes later they had a chance to equalize through the lively Dempsey. Simon Davies was released down the Fulham left, he took the ball past Steve Gohouri and played a perfect pull back into the path of Dempsey but the striker was unable to get any power behind his shot and Al Habsi saved easily.
As Fulham pushed on it began to leave gaps in their defense and a minute later after Wigan had cleared a corner N’Zgobia set off on a mesmerizing run from inside his own half. The Frenchman raced past the Fulham defense before playing a cross from edge of box into by Rodallega but the Colombian was unable to balance himself properly and his volley sailed embarrassingly wide.
With 12 minutes to play Fulham thought they had got themselves back into the match as Dempsey put the ball in the back of the net but his strike was ruled out by the assistant referee for handball for what was actually the second goal Dempsey had called back on the day. To his credit, from the replays the official was spot on as Duff’s cross was deflected by substitute Andy Johnson and controlled by Dempsey with his arm before he fired it into the net.
Fulham were now piling on the pressure and in the 86th minute they got their reward with a goal from Johnson. Dempsey ran through the Wigan midfield before chipping a pass into Johnson who controlled the ball and despite a valiant effort from Al Habsi the ball dropped into the back of the net to earn his side a point.
For more on Americans abroad, visit Goal.com's dedicated page and join Goal.com USA's Facebook fan page!