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Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Saturday, 21 February 2009

Middlesbrough 0-0 Wigan

By Caroline Cheese

Gareth Southgate shows his concer for Didier Digard as the midfielder is stretchered off
Boro saw Didier Digard stretchered off during the first half

Middlesbrough's miserable run continued as they were held at home by Wigan, making it a club record 14 Premier League games without victory.

A dismal first half was notable only for the departure of Didier Digard on a stretcher following a tackle by former Boro midfielder Lee Cattermole.

Stewart Downing had the best chance of the half, his well-struck effort turned behind by Chris Kirkland.

The keeper also saved late on from Gary O'Neil in a desperately poor game.

The Riverside was 10,000 short of capacity for an encounter between two sides struggling for confidence.

Middlesbrough's recent form has been well documented, but Wigan have hardly been flying.

Players showed fear - Southgate

Steve Bruce's side have not won in six games, have scored just once in that sequence, and have now been involved in three straight goalless draws.

It came as little surprise, then, that neither side managed a shot on target in the opening half-hour.

With goalmouth action all but absent, Cattermole unwillingly found himself playing a starring role.

His crunching challenge on Digard succeeded in winning the ball but also left the Frenchman needing a lengthy spell of treatment.

As the home fans made their feelings known, Digard was stretchered off with what looked like a serious leg injury.


Not long after, Cattermole - booed mercilessly by the home fans - collided with O'Neil in the box, referee Mike Dean booking the Boro man for exaggerating the contact.

Booked a minute earlier for a push on Julio Arca, Cattermole must have panicked when Afonso Alves went down under his challenge.

Dean instead showed the yellow card to Alves for diving, another decision backed up by television replays.

Boro's neat passing, meanwhile, continued to look tidy enough but chances were hard to come by, Kirkland saving Downing's daisy-cutter before seeing the England winger shoot just wide from the corner.

There was not much more excitement after the break.

We have lost our cutting edge - Bruce

Boro substitute Jeremie Aliadiere volleyed hopelessly wide from a good position, while at the other end, Michael Brown managed a little better, his effort flying only narrowly past the post.

While hardly impressive, Boro certainly did not deserve to lose so they would have been breathing a sigh of relief when substitute Hugo Rodallega sprung the offside trap but clipped his shot over the bar.

Boro managed one final push, O'Neil seeing his fierce shot stopped by Kirkland's knees, but the winless run goes on, and Gareth Southgate's men could even find themselves bottom of the table by the end of the weekend.

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate:
"Everyone is up for the fight.

"We know it'll be extremely tough. Everyone else thinks we're gone but there's a lot of football to be played.

"We're going to have to win matches people won't expect us to, but we're capable of doing that. We're not giving much away so we have a chance."

Wigan boss Steve Bruce on Cattermole's challenge:
"Nobody wants to see anybody going off but unfortunately it happens.

"It was a perfectly good challenge. The crowd went up, and I have to compliment the referee who handled it very well.

And on the game:
"We've lost a bit of our cutting edge with the changes we had to make in January. It's never easy to rebuild halfway through the season and it's going to to take a bit of time for us.

"All credit to the players, they've rolled up their sleeves again. Defensively we were terrific and the longer it went on, the more I thought we were going to nick it."

Middlesbrough: Jones, Hoyte, Wheater, Huth, Pogatetz, O'Neil, Digard (Walker 23), Arca (Aliadiere 52), Adam Johnson (Sanli 62), Downing, Alves.
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Emnes, Bates, McMahon.

Booked: O'Neil, Alves.

Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Boyce, Bramble, Figueroa, Watson, Brown, Cattermole, N'Zogbia, Kapo (Rodallega 61), Zaki (Sibierski 75).
Subs Not Used: Kingson, Edman, Koumas, Cywka, Routledge.

Booked: Watson, Cattermole, Kapo, Zaki.

Att: 24,020

Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Titus Bramble 6.38 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Premier League as it happened
21 Feb 09 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
21 Feb 09 |  Football

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