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Wigan 0-0 Fulham

By Ollie Williams

Charles N'Zogbia
Club record signing Charles N'Zogbia made his Wigan debut

Wigan and Fulham fought out a dull draw at the JJB Stadium in which neither team looked likely to score.

Misfiring Cottagers striker Bobby Zamora squandered two good first-half chances as Wigan were forced to use all three substitutions before the break.

The second half offered some end-to-end football but the Latics barely had a chance, while Fulham were toothless once Zamora had been withdrawn.

The result marks the fourth draw in five encounters between the two sides.

Fulham kept the same starting line-up that had beaten Portsmouth the previous week, with loan signing Olivier Dacourt left on the bench.

Club record buy Charles N'Zogbia made his Wigan debut, while Colombian striker Hugo Rodallega started for the first time since arriving in January.

Hodgson frustrated with draw

But Wigan boss Steve Bruce's plans took an early knock as both Michael Brown and Antonio Valencia headed off injured inside the opening 20 minutes - Valencia having only just recovered from hamstring trouble to take his place in the starting line-up.

Fulham's partnership of Zamora and Andrew Johnson initially looked the bigger threat, with Wigan only slowly fighting their way into the game.

Zamora, who has scored just one league goal in a Fulham shirt this season, had the first real chance of the match, forcing Chris Kirkland into a fine stop low to his right.

Wigan's on-loan striker Mido then drew a similar save from Mark Schwarzer, before missing a free header from a fine Maynor Figueroa cross as the encounter briefly livened up.

But that proved the Egyptian's final contribution as Bruce was once again forced into a first-half change, Wigan using their third substitution to send Amr Zaki on for the hobbling Mido.

Nor were Fulham immune, as Dickson Etuhu limped off to be replaced by debutant Dacourt.

Koumas could have broken the deadlock with a thundering volley a minute from the break, but he dragged his powerful strike disappointingly wide.

Zamora again looked lively after the restart, crafting an excellent run to beat Kirkland to a through ball, but his finish sailed wide as the 28-year-old's run of 18 league games without a goal continued.

Bruce relieved to earn a point

At the other end Wigan now had top scorer Zaki at their disposal, but he could only muster a low, rasping shot from distance which Schwarzer easily gathered.

Zamora left the field with a quarter of an hour remaining as Roy Hodgson introduced Erik Nevland, who had scored twice against Portsmouth as a substitute a week earlier.

But even the Norwegian proved powerless to inject a goal into the match and, with a particularly lifeless final 15 minutes, the game fizzled out.


Wigan manager Steve Bruce:
"It's a really good result for us because we struggled today.

"I have to take responsibility. Michael Brown was sick but we tried to start with him, Mido hasn't trained all week and was only half-fit, Rodallega and Watson haven't played for seven weeks.

"That was too big a gamble, I take responsibility and I'm delighted we got away with a point.

"We've played poorly today and sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say it wasn't our day."

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson:
"In the circumstances I reflect on it as being two points dropped rather than a point gained.

"Before the match a point would have been a good day's work, but the way we played, we dominated possession and constantly threatened behind them. We just weren't able to get that elusive goal.

"I can't criticise the performance, I can just bemoan the fact that you want a good performance to give you three points rather than one.

"Last week Bobby Zamora had a bad time and it was good to see him back today, doing what we need."


Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Scharner, Bramble, Figueroa, Valencia (Watson 18), Brown (Koumas 19), Cattermole, N'Zogbia, Mido (Zaki 42), Rodallega.
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Edman, Boyce, De Ridder.

Booked: Figueroa.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky, Davies, Etuhu (Dacourt 45), Murphy, Dempsey (Gera 90), Johnson, Zamora (Nevland 75).
Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Gray, Stoor, Kallio.

Booked: Dempsey, Pantsil.

Att: 16,499.

Ref: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Fulham's Danny Murphy 7.80 (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. Player Rater



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


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