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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 December 2007, 16:53 GMT
Fulham 1-1 Wigan
By Sam Lyon

Clint Dempsey
Dempsey secured a point for Fulham with a neat strike late on
Clint Dempsey's late strike salvaged a draw for Fulham to mark Ray Lewington's first match as caretaker boss with a point against fellow strugglers Wigan.

Carlos Bocanegra had a header cleared off the line and Paul Konchesky hit the bar in a Fulham-dominated first half.

But Wigan slowly got into the game and they took the lead when Marcus Bent controlled on the chest and lashed in.

However, Fulham kept battling and Dempsey denied Wigan a first away win of the season with a low 16-yard drive.

It was a result that did little to ease either side's relegation worries, with both sides still firmly rooted in the bottom four.

But Lewington could at least be pleased with his side's renewed sense of urgency following a run of just one win in 15 matches that ultimately cost former manager Lawrie Sanchez his job.

606: DEBATE

It was a bright start from the hosts, with only a smart goal-line clearance by Denny Landzaat denying Bocanegra's header, before Dempsey went close when his effort from Danny Murphy's cross was deflected over.

Wigan were unsettled by Fulham's effervescent opening and the Cottagers again breached the visitors' backline when Hameur Bouazza slid a neat pass through to Davies, who forced a decent save from Chris Kirkland.

Home keeper Antti Niemi was largely a spectator early on, Michael Brown twice missing the target from the edge of the box in Wigan's best chances, and Konchesky almost provided Fulham with a deserved lead when his 35-yard drive crashed off the bar.

However, as Wigan finally began to come to terms with Fulham's energy, the half petered into a scrappy battle and it was not until just before the hour mark that either side created another chance.

This time Dempsey broke the offside trap to run onto Murphy's clipped through ball, but Kirkland was able to merely shepherd the American's tame strike wide of goal.

Marcus Bent
Bent celebrates his fine opener at Fulham, his fourth goal in a week

Fulham were unable to re-create their chances of the first half, though, and a Wigan side that had appeared worryingly short of quality in the first half soon began to grow in confidence.

Titus Bramble and Landzaat both had half-chances with tough headers and, with 20 minutes left on the clock, the deadlock was finally broken.

Kevin Kilbane's cross was helped on by Bramble and Bent controlled well on his chest before lashing into the roof of the net from eight yards.

It was the striker's fourth goal in two matches after his hat-trick last week, but the lead was almost wiped out within minutes when Fulham substitute David Healy ran onto Dempsey's clever free-kick only to direct his shot wide on the slide.

The Cottagers were not to be denied, though, and Dempsey finally gained some reward for a hard-working display when he prodded home at the far post from Kamara's driven cross.

Both sides had chances to snatch it, Wigan winger Antonio Valencia allowing Niemi to smother his shot when clear on goal and Antoine Sibierski heading just over, while Kamara forced a smart, brave save from Kirkland late on.

The game ended in stalemate, though, ending a run of seven straight away defeats for Wigan.


  • Fulham caretaker boss Ray Lewington:
    "We were playing at home and when you do that you expect to come away with three points, so it's probably a better result for them than us.

    "We were energetic and full of effort, which was pleasing, and we dominated possession and created the better chances, but then we could easily have lost the game as well.

    "As for the future, my hat is in the ring to take the job on a permanent basis but that means my doing well. We've got the players here to do better and we just need to take it a game at a time."

  • Wigan manager Steve Bruce:
    "We're disappointed not to win that to be honest. With 10 minutes to go and with the way we were playing I thought we might snatch it.

    "But in the last week, with a win against Blackburn and a point here, we've at least given ourselves a chance and we've edged towards safety.

    "I'm seeing a bit of confidence and self belief coming back into the side and, yes, we know it will be tough (to survive), but we hope to keep improving and keep picking up points."


    Fulham: Niemi, Omozusi (Baird 60), Bocanegra, Hughes, Konchesky, Bouazza (Kuqi 72), Davis (Healy 59), Murphy, Davies, Kamara, Dempsey.
    Subs Not Used: Warner, Ki-Hyeon.

    Goals: Dempsey 78.

    Wigan: Kirkland, Boyce, Scharner, Bramble, Kilbane, Valencia, Brown, Landzaat, Taylor (Olembe 86), Aghahowa (Sibierski 63), Bent.
    Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Granqvist, Skoko.

    Goals: Bent 70.

    Att: 20,820

    Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).


    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Fulham's Antti Niemi 8.40 (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.

  • SEE ALSO
    How to watch Match of the Day
    08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day
    Live - Premier League
    22 Dec 07 |  Premier League
    Saturday's football photos
    22 Dec 07 |  Football


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