The same old story away from home again sadly. A goal up and playing pretty well, Fulham stumble with the finishing line in sight, and have to settle for a point on our travels. There seems to be no end to the interminable wait for an away win, no matter what Lawrie Sanchez tries.
The press have been quite positive about Fulham’s performance, noting that Wigan barely deserved the point they got courtesy of a late penalty from Jason Koumas, who has been linked with a transfer to Craven Cottage more times than I care to remember. Yet, Fulham let the Latics break into a game we should have sewn long before Hameur Bouazza’s careless challenge on Mario Melchiot gifted Koumas the chance to earn a point for Chris Hutchings’ men.
All that shouldn’t disguish the fact that Fulham were fairly positive from the off again and got their reward thanks to an early Clint Dempsey goal, which was Fulham’s 100th in the top flight. The visitors were helped by an untimely injury to Emile Heskey with England internationals in mind and the big man’s premature departure certainly explained Wigan’s lack of a cutting edge. But Fulham might have gone ahead after Bouazza found a way between David Cotterill and Melchiot, even if it might be a little harsh to suggest the Algerian might have done better than drag his subsequent shot wide.
They didn’t have to wait long to establish their advantage though. A sweeping Fulham counter attack saw Diomansy Kamara raid down the left flank and send in a cross that Dempsey drilled home to the delight of the travelling fans. It might have been two midway through the first period when Carlos Bocanegra narrowly failed to head a Simon Davies corner into the Wigan net. There was a relative comfort about Fulham’s lead, too, as, apart from fielding a snapshot from former Manchester City midfielder Antoine Sibierski, Antti Niemi was hardly tested.
Fulham were later left to rue a series of second half misses. Sanchez had obviously implored them to try and seal the elusive away win after the break and they set a high tempo after the restart. The home side were indebted to Chris Kirkland for keeping them in the contest. The former Liverpool goalkeeper produced a quite brilliant double save to first foil a free-kick from Simon Davies and then deny Aaron Hughes from the rebound.
Kamara and Dempsey combined to create the best chance of the game shortly afterwards. The pair exchanged a clever one-two to send the American through on goal but Kirkland saved smartly with his feet and then came the cruel twist of fate. Wigan hardly looked dangerous but Bouazza’s ill-advised tackle as Melchiot darted into the Fulham box allowed Koumas to peg back them back.
More away woe for Sanchez.
It should have been an away win. We were in control of the game for 80 minutes. We should have added to our lead but we didn’t take our chances.
I think it was as comprehensive an away win as you could see, without us actually taking all three points. I’m bitterly disappointed that we have dropped two points.
WIGAN ATHLETIC (4-5-1): Kirkland; Melchiot, Granqvist, Bramble, Boyce; Scharner, Brown, Koumas, Cotterill (Skoko 60), Sibierski (Aghahowa 75); Heskey (M. Bent 10). Subs (not used): Pollitt, Hall.
GOAL: Koumas (pen 10).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Niemi; Baird, Konchesky, Hughes, Bocanegra; Davis, Smertin, Davies (Murphy 85), Bouazza (Seol 85); Dempsey, Kamara (Healy 68). Subs (not used): Keller, Stefanovic.
GOAL: Dempsey (11).
REFEREE: Rob Styles (Hampshire).