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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 February 2007, 21:39 GMT
Watford 1-1 Wigan
By Caroline Cheese

Wigan scorer Caleb Folan (left) celebrates with Lee McCulloch
Wigan scorer Caleb Folan (left) celebrates with Lee McCulloch
Watford missed a golden chance to climb off the bottom of the Premiership as they were held by 10-man Wigan.

The struggling Latics suffered a huge blow when Fitz Hall was sent off after 20 minutes for a two-footed challenge.

And they went behind just four minutes later when Darius Henderson bundled in from close range.

But Caleb Folan poked home the equaliser before half-time and Wigan held on for a deserved point against an unimaginitive Watford side.

Come the end of the season, the Hornets may well look back on this game as the one that sealed their fate.

Aidy Boothroyd's side remain seven points from safety, while Wigan are six points clear of the relegation zone.

It could have been so different for Boothroyd's men, whose recent Premiership win over West Ham had given them renewed belief they might escape the drop.

Injured striker Marlon King arrived on the pitch before kick-off, urging the home fans to be the team's 12th man.

But in truth they had little to cheer until referee Rob Styles intervened after 20 minutes.

606 DEBATE: Give your thoughts on the match

Watford's French midfielder Johan Cavalli won a 50-50 challange with Ryan Taylor and then found himself facing the onrushing Hall.

Hall went in with both feet but having got to the ball first, he had every right to be stunned when Styles went straight to his left-hand pocket and produced a red card.

Wigan boss Paul Jewell, who has not been short of an opinion on referees of late, stood emotionless on the touchline, his arms folded in apparent resignation.

Four minutes later, Henderson doubled his goal tally for the season by bundling home from close range from Jordan Stewart's cut-back.

It was only the seventh time Watford had scored the first goal in the Premiership this season - but rather than lift their confidence, it seemed to make them uneasy.

With the Hornets incapable of keeping possession, Wigan were able to launch a succession of long balls to their imposing front pair of Folan and Emile Heskey.

Heskey's persistence led to Watford keeper Ben Foster making a brave double save, from Folan and then Denny Landzaat, the England international injuring himself in the process.

With no substitute on the bench, Boothroyd was grateful Foster was able to carry on but he could do little about Wigan's equaliser.

Folan atoned for a dreadful miss two minutes earlier when he won an aerial battle with Jay DeMerit and stabbed the ball past Foster for his first Wigan goal.

Boothroyd introduced Hameur Bouazza at half-time in place of Cavalli but Watford were still unable to take control against the 10 men.

Foster was again on hand to save from Landzaat, who opted to shoot instead of laying the ball across goal for Heskey.

Inevitably, Wigan began to fade as the second half progressed, allowing Watford to apply some pressure - but they were hardly rampant.

Indeed, the closest they came to a winner was when Bouazza's mis-hit cross from the left had Wigan keeper John Filan scrambling before he tipped the ball over.

As their team toiled, Watford's fans gave their all until the final whistle but after a frustrating evening, Championship football looks to be beckoning.

  • Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd:
    "I'm still positive. We didn't lose, but we should have won and we have to make these situations count.

    "We had more possession than ever but we didn't make use of it.

    "But we're still on an unbeaten and I still believe the table will look different at the end of the season. I've told the players to stop sulking."

  • Wigan manager Paul Jewell:
    "It means a lot. It's a big point considering the circumstances.

    "We showed our true colours, and we had the better chances with 10 men.

    "But it's more than the point. We've shown we can match a team like Watford for fighting and scrapping."

    Watford: Foster, Mariappa, Mackay, DeMerit, Stewart, Smith, Mahon, Francis, Cavalli (Bouazza 46), Henderson, Kabba (Hoskins 62).
    Subs Not Used: Doyley, Bangura, Priskin.

    Booked: Bouazza.

    Goals: Henderson 24.

    Wigan: Filan, Hall, Boyce, Jackson, Baines, Taylor, Landzaat, Skoko, McCulloch, Heskey, Folan (Kilbane 55).
    Subs Not Used: Nash, Camara, Valencia, Unsworth.

    Sent Off: Hall (20).

    Booked: McCulloch.

    Goals: Folan 40.

    Att: 18,338

    Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).

    Watford fall short
    22 Feb 07 |  Premiership
    Wednesday's football photos
    21 Feb 07 |  Football


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