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Fulham 2-1 Wigan Athletic (Wigan Fan's Perspective)

Sunday 22nd April 2012
Wigan slipped to an unfortunate defeat at Fulham despite taking a second half lead at Craven Cottage. Emmerson Boyce was the unlikely provider of the opening goal, but Fulham immediately drew level and stole the points right at the death after Philippe Senderos headed home to end Wigan's incredible recent revival.

Roberto Martinez named an unchanged side for the twelfth time this season, no manager has done that more in the Premier League this term. Although Shaun Maloney returned to the squad as a substitute there was still no return to the matchday squad for Hugo Rodallega.

The first half was a good footballing affair, with both sides knocking the ball around well without really asserting their authority on the game. The visitors' best chances of the opening period both went the way of Jordi Gomez. The Spaniard was first to a loose ball in the box and unlike at Arsenal on Monday he couldn't get his effort on target and his shot thumped into the outside of the net. Moments later his low left-footed drive was well saved by Schwarzer.

From the start of the second half Wigan seemed find another gear and went in front just before the hour. Wigan's system enables the likes of Beausejour and Boyce to get forward. It was the latter who linked up well with substitute Conor Sammon on the edge of the box. Sammon, who was trying to play in fellow sub Maloney, saw his pass ricochet off Senderos back into the path of Boyce, who drilled home an unstoppable effort from just outside the box and beyond the reach of Schwarzer. It was a stunning strike for a man who is predominantly a defender. The Barbadian's first goal in more than two years.

Wigan needed a period of calm after going in front. They didn't get it. The adrenaline was still pumping and the visiting fans were still celebrating when the home side drew level. Pogrebnyak linked up well with Dempsey on the edge of the box and the big Russian's shot into the bottom corner left Al Habsi stranded and made it 1-1. It was an avoidable goal. Wigan simply hadn't got themselves organised again after taking the lead. There were bodies in and around the danger area to stop the shot, but they failed to do so and were made to pay.

Suddenly for Wigan it was a case of trying to hang on to a point, having had thoughts of another away win on their minds less than a minute earlier. From that moment Fulham were in the ascendency, with goalscorer Pogrebnyak hitting the woodwork twice in quick succession as the home side went in search of the winner.

Wigan's resistance broke late on. Goalscorer Boyce was unlucky to concede a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. In the first half Riise and Dempsey went to ground far too easily to win free kicks in important areas. This time it was Kerim Frei who needed no encouragement to go to ground. And when Riise delivered a perfect set piece cross, Senderos headed beyond the reach of Al Habsi to win the game for the hosts in the dying moments.

At full time there was a real feeling of disappointment amongst the travelling Wigan support. While the players didn't quite do enough to win the game, they should really have come away from this one with a vital point in their battle to beat the drop. Just like against Fulham earlier in the season, Wigan really didn't get the result they deserved. It's pretty much the story of the last seven seasons against Fulham, who have really got the wood on Roberto Martinez's men.

It's fair to say Wigan looked like they were running on empty in the latter stages of the game. That's not surprising having given so much in the recent matches. To play Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal in the space of 9 days was a big ask and the majority of the players used at Craven Cottage featured in all of those games.

Attention now switches to the game at home to Newcastle next weekend. Three points from that one would go a long way to securing an eighth Premier League campaign for Wigan Athletic. With Sunday seeing QPR visit Chelsea and Blackburn visit Spurs it could be a great chance to put more breathing space between them and their relegation rivals.

At the minute I don't fear relegation. The players are playing so well and with so much confidence and belief right now that I just don't see the club losing all three of their remaining fixtures. In my opinion, four points from the remaining three games should be enough. Hopefully that won't mean needing more points on the final day. I'm not sure I or any other Wigan fan can take that again!

Keep the faith.

Fulham:  Schwarzer, Hughes, Hangeland, Senderos, Riise, Dempsey, Diarra, Murphy (Frei 81), Duff, Dembele, Pogrebnyak

Unused Subs:  Stockdale, Baird, Briggs,Kasami, Etuhu, Johnson

Goals: Pogrebnyak 58, Senderos 89

Wigan Athletic:  Al Habsi, Boyce, Alcaraz, Caldwell (c), Figueroa, Beausejour, McArthur (Watson 75), McCarthy, Gomez (Maloney 55), Moses, Di Santo (Sammon 33)

Unused Subs:  Pollitt, Gohouri, Jones, Diame

Goals: Boyce 57

Attendance: 25,689

Referee: Lee Mason
Stuart Alker

Total articles: 31

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