Wigan 1 Fulham 1
The JJB Stadium can be a strange place to visit. It lacks the atmosphere of most Premier League games due to its vast amount of empty seats.
Journeying back south last night, our little posse of supporters encamped in the minibus had to agree that our small travelling band of supporters didn`t help that much when it came to disguising those empty seats. Nevertheless, the game, despite what some predicted, was entertaining and at one point I even believed that we could snatch that elusive first away win in nineteen games but it was not to be.
For the fixture, Sanchez was able to call upon the services of Aaron Hughes, fit again after his ankle injury as the back four, compared to last season, looked completely different apart form the reassuring presence of Bocanegra. In attack, Lawrie left Healy on the bench and stuck with Dempsey and Kamara.
The general feeling amongst our little band was that the danger men for Wigan would be Heskey and Koumas, a player we tried to sign from West Bromwich Albion in the summer.
The first meaningful action saw Bouazza presented with a good chance but his shot flew wide before some wry cheers, from us lot, greeted the departure of Emile Heskey as the danger man limped off with an injury after only eight minutes.
Three minutes later we were in heaven when we took an early lead. The goal came from Clint Dempsey who made it three in three games simply sliding home from twelve yards after Kamara had appeared to lose control. Cue some nutty celebrations amongst our small band.
Unfortunately, the goal inspired Wigan to play their best football of the half. Thankfully, over-eagerness saw them rely too much on the long bal being pumped forward, mostly by Titus (I live that name) Bramble. More often than not they simply went through for Niemi to collect. With half time arriving, we had the scent of those first three away points firmly in our nostrils.
The second half saw Fulham start the better and Chris Kirkland, in the Wigan goal, had to produce some smart saves to keep the home side in the game. Dempsey was looking particularly lively and will have been frustrated at not being able to double his tally for the afternoon.
The pessimistic amongst us began to wonder if we`d rue those missed chances. Wigan were not creating much and Fulham looked to be comfortably coping until those final ten minutes came. As has often been the case this season, those final moments have seen us suffer a calamity and when Melchiot burst into the box and Bouazza made contact you just knew that when the ex-Chelsea defender tumbled to the deck, it`d be a penalty.
Koumas duly stepped up and sent Niemi the wrong way and it was 1-1. Thankfully, we were able to hold on until the end and I suppose a point isn`t a bad result considering Wigan had a 100% home record prior to our arrival.