LATICS 0 FULHAM 0Wigan Athletic returned to the DW Stadium for the first time in a month, and played out a tight goalless draw with Fulham.
Both sides had their chances to win a wide open contest, but a point apiece was probably a fair result on the day.
Latics perhaps went closest in the final minute of the game through substitute Nick Powell, who saw his close range effort tipped over the bar by David Button.
The result means Latics rise a place in the Sky Bet Championship, ahead of Friday evening’s trip to Preston North End.
Gary Caldwell made just the one change to the side which lost narrowly at Norwich, with Yanic Wildschut returning to the side after his impressive performance from the bench.
The match day squad also saw returns for Nick Powell and David Perkins, who have missed out recently through injury.
Despite the continuity of the line-up, it was the visitors who started the brighter, and put Latics under pressure in the opening exchanges, forcing Adam Bogdan into a brilliant save.
The goalkeeper showed he was bearing no scars from his mistake on Tuesday night, and got down well to deny Neeskens Kebano’s fizzed effort from range in the third minute.
Latics soon found their feet, and began to hit the visitors on the break, with Jordi Gomez causing plenty of problems with his intelligent passing.
The midfielder put his clever play to good use on the six minute mark, when he threaded a ball through to Will Grigg. The striker pulled the trigger, but saw his effort hit the side netting.
It wasn’t just Gomez who was trying intelligent play, with Dan Burn unlucky not to release Wildschut with a direct ball three minutes later.
Despite the eye-pleasing play, both sides were struggling to have testing efforts at goal, and chances were very much at a premium. Latics were on the front foot though, with Jordi Gomez continuing to catch the eye throughout the first half.
Michael Jacobs soon took matters into his own hands on the 22 minute mark, when he fired the trigger from range after breaking down the right – though his effort could only flash over the crossbar.
The play continued to follow a similar manner, though, with Latics having much the best of the game, but struggling to make a real impact infront of goal.
Attention turned away from the result on the half hour mark, when Alex Gilbey required treatment after being caught late. The midfielder was stretchered off the pitch, to warm applause from the Latics fans, and replaced by Nathan Byrne.
Latics continued to have the better of it, and went close on 34 minutes through Jordi Gomez, who fired just wide of the far post after picking the ball up in the area.
Fulham posed a threat on the break too, and almost took the lead themselves a minute later through Chris Martin, when the striker met a dangerous cross from the right hand side, but couldn’t guide his header at goal.
Latics continued to press, but found themselves going into the interval level.
The second half continued in a similar vein, with Latics struggling to make an impact in the final third, despite seeing plenty of possession.
Yanic Wildschut almost found the net in an unconventional manner six minutes in, though, when he pumped the ball into the box from deep. It was a teasing ball, which for one minute looked like it might dip over Button, but the ‘keeper recovered to gather.
The visitors had ideas of their own, and Chris Martin almost managed a unique goal himself on the hour mark, when he just sent his overhead kick wide of the post, after meeting a cross from the right.
Time was ticking along, and for all of Latics’ possession, they continued to struggle to find an opening in front of goal.
Gary Caldwell took action, introducing Adam Le Fondre for his home debut 20 minutes from time in place of Will Grigg.
The forward almost made an immediate impact, when firing wide after excellent play by Byrne to release him. The winger embarked on a lung-busting run from deep before releasing Le Fondre, who guided his low effort just wide of the far post.
Latics continued to play some nice football, and almost pulled off a flowing move six minutes from time, when the ball was worked across to Jacobs.
The winger picked it up on the right hand side of the area and fired towards goal, but Button was equal to it and held on well.
There was always a feeling, even in the dying moments, that there was a goal coming, and Latics had to dig in in the closing minutes to ensure Fulham didn’t nick all three points – with substitute Matt Smith almost forcing the ball home after meeting Tunnicliffe’s cross four minutes from time.
Latics continued to press themselves, and perhaps had their best chance of the entire contest in the final minute of the game through substitute Nick Powell.
The ball fell to the midfielder after Fulham were unable to clear their lines from a corner, and it took a tremendous save from Button to deny his powerful effort from winning all three points.
It wasn’t to be, but Latics ended their pointless run with a creditable draw, and plenty to build on ahead of the Lancashire derby against Preston.