REPORT: WIGAN ATHLETIC 3 FULHAM 3Wigan Athletic made it six games unbeaten with an action packed 3-3 draw with Fulham at the DW Stadium this afternoon.
Shaun Maloney’s strike eight minutes from time looked to have won the game for Latics, after goals from Forshaw and Espinoza had left the game at 2-2, but a late Bryan Ruiz penalty ensured that the points were shared.
It was a game that had everything and plenty of players stood out for the hosts, in particular Roger Espinoza, whose energy and tenacity was noticeable throughout, and the midfielder thoroughly deserved his goal to equalise for Latics in the second half.
Wigan started the game unchanged from the side that won away at Derby a week ago, with Uwe Rosler opting to stick with the same starting eleven for the first time this season.
The influx of stability seemed to boost Wigan, who made a fantastic start to the game, and were in front within nine minutes from the penalty spot when Callum McManaman was brought down in the area.
McManaman built on good attacking play from Emyr Huws and Marc-Antoine Fortune and drove into the area, before being brought down by Konstantinos Stafylidis for a spot kick. Adam Forshaw took responsibility and scored his first goal for the club, with the midfielder producing a neat finish into the net to put his side in front.
Wigan continued to look dangerous in the opening fifteen minutes and could have had a second, when Marc-Antoine Fortune’s low cross just evaded McManaman in the area.
However, momentum soon changed, and the visitors quickly grew into the game, and looked increasingly dangerous in front of goal.
Former Latics striker Hugo Rodallega looked particularly threatening for Fulham, and the Colombian striker threatened throughout with his mazy runs.
Attempts on goal from Rodallega and Elsad Zverotic signalled the visitors intent, before they bagged an equaliser on the half hour mark through Lasse Vigen, who ran onto Rodallega’s through ball to slot the ball past Scott Carson.
The shape of the game had changed completely, and Fulham found completed the quick turnaround five minutes later, when Ross McCormack’s cross was turned in at the far post by Bryan Ruiz, who made sure of the ball crossing the line with his chest.
Wigan Athletic attempted to fight their way back into the game in the dying stages of the half, with James Tavernier, Huws and Adam Forshaw all looking promising on the ball, but Latics found themselves behind at the interval.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with momentum swinging between both sides throughout.
Latics came out fighting, and soon had the better of the game early on, with McManaman continuing to look dangerous. The winger’s tenacity was almost rewarded in the 50th minute, when his cross was met by Don Cowie, who couldn’t quite get his header on target.
Wigan’s good start was rewarded two minutes later, with a superb volley from Roger Espinoza. The midfielder rewarded his manager’s decision to keep him in the starting line up with an expertly taken volley from the edge of the area, which darted into the bottom right hand corner.
The game continued to be open, and either side could have taken the lead just two minutes after the equaliser.
Latics went close through McManaman, who picked up the ball from Fortune and cut inside, before firing a fierce shot at Betinelli. Fulham broke immediately however and could have been in front themselves through McCormack, who met Williams’ cross and forced a great save from Carson with a low volley at his far post.
The game continued to be open, and McCormack handed Latics an advantage 14 minutes from time, when he was given his marching orders after an altercation with James McClean, which followed a late challenge on Tavernier a few minutes earlier.
Wigan immediately looked to build on their advantage, and the hosts pressed for a winner, with Uwe Rosler introducing Shaun Maloney in place of McManaman.
The substitution proved to be a master stroke, with Maloney giving Latics the lead with his first kick of the game. The midfielder picked up the ball from the excellent Espinoza, whose clever through ball evaded the opposition’s defence and allowed Maloney to slot the ball home from close range eight minutes from time.
The drama was to continue however, and Latics came agonisingly close to a second straight win before conceding a penalty just two minutes from time, when Rodallega broke free and was brought down from behind Leon Barnett in the penalty area, who was shown a straight red card for the foul.
Fulham forward Bryan Ruiz stepped up for the penalty, and made no mistake from the spot to ensure that the points were shared with his second goal of the game.