Colin Greenall wrecked Ray Wilkins debut as Fulham manager as Wigan Athletic ruined the start of Mohamed Al-Fayed’s new era by winning a topsy-turvy contest at Springfield Park.

The Cottagers’ new chief operating officer Kevin Keegan, back in football nine months after walking out on Newcastle United, was the big draw both before and after this fixture. They had expected thousands of Fulham fans to travel from London to acclaim their new savour after Keegan and Wilkins were unveiled as the replacement for Micky Adams, who had guided the Whites to promotion from the Third Division on a shoestring budget last season, on Thursday.

But the reaction of the travelling fans to their new management team was decidedly muted. Only a few hundred made the trip and some even aimed catcalls at Keegan as he arrived and obliged a throng of autograph hunters. Keegan watched the match from the stands, leaving the management to his hand-picked head-coach, ex-England captain Wilkins, who was perhaps too generous in his post-match praise of his new side who let a winning position slip.

Fulham began well and went ahead through Steve Hayward’s first goal for the club after eighteen minutes. The midfielder, signed from Carlisle United in the summer, prodded home a shot from Richard Carpenter that looked to have been going wide of Lee Butler’s goal. But they only held their lead for seven minutes before Gavin Johnson punished the visitors’ failure to clear their lines from a corner by blasting high into the roof of the net.

The home side dominated the second half and had struck both the post and the bar before Andre Arendse made a magnificent save to deny David Lowe. Wigan piled on the pressure and were rewarded in the very last minute of normal time when defender Greenall headed home Roberto Martinez’s corner to ruin Wilkins’ first outing as Fulham boss. He has some fans to win over – with the die-hard Fulham faithful feeling that one of their own, Adams, has been harshly treated by the Harrods supremo after a summer of significant upheaval.

WIGAN ATHLETIC: Butler; Green, Greenall, McGibbon, Sharp (Rogers 63); Lee, Martinez, O’Connell, Johnson; Lowe, Jones (Saville 63). Subs (not used): Warne.

BOOKED: Green.

GOALS: Johnson (26), Greenall (89).

FULHAM: Arendse; Morgan, Cullip, Lawrence; Carpenter, Herrera, Cockerill, Hayward, McAree (Smith 59); Moody (Scott 88), Conroy. Subs (not used): Cusack.

GOAL: Hayward (18).

REFEREE: Roger Furnandiz (Doncaster).