James McCarthy of Wigan Athletic is fouled by Chris Baird of Fulham during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Fulham at DW Stadium.
This score line does not do justice to a team, who played well. That team though was not Wigan Athletic, instead what we saw from a home side, was how to play lovely football. Yet forget to do the rest. The feelings from last season are resurfacing, and that isn't good.
Yet before the game started, everyone was in a great mood. The sun was out, and there was a little of 18,000 Wigan fans all packed in together, expect to see a great game of football. They did get that, some of the play from both side was fantastic and really highlighted the Premier League's middle teams. Yet what they didn't see was a home win.
The game did have everything else from a returning hero, to a pantomime referring moment.
Yet as the game started, it would be Wigan who would look the better. Getting the ball on the deck and looking to pass it about. With Ben Watson and Jordi Gomez into the starting line up, you could see why. Make Fulham work for the ball and exploit their poor midfield.
That maybe all well and good, but when we lose our main man up front (Franco Di Santo), then all our attacking moves seem to go to pot. It was very much the reapeating pattern for the first ten minutes or so, as we looked to build going forward, yet every time we played the ball high to Arouna Kone. It was headed clear by the much taller centre backs.
Give the lad a chance.
Yet we didn't learn, and wanted to force the ball down our left side, to whip the ball across the box. Eventually when we started to get good crosses into the box we caused problems. Our best chance in the first half fell to Emmerson Boyce who nearly crept in round the back post to head home a Jean Beausejour cross.
Yet it would be Fulham who would take the lead. They had been working away at our defence bit by bit. Obviously seeing the weakness we have in not having a defender who can powerfully clear the ball. Eventually this would tell. A Damien Duff cross would failed to be cleared properly, by a poor Gary Caldwell, before Maynor Figueroa would fail to get onto the second ball.
Instead Dimitar Berbatov got onto the lose ball and past the Houndran with ease, before lifting the ball into the box, for that man to head home. I am of course talking about Hugo Rodallega. The man who had yet to score for his new club, found the net against his former club.
The Colombian refused to celebrate and instead broke away from his fellow players to apologize to the fans who had held him so dearly. The respect was well met, as we Wiganers rose to applaud a man we all respect a a player and as a person. At the end of the day he is only doing his job.
Yet there was no time for that now, we wanted to get level and fight back. Just our team didn't seem to know how to do that. Shaun Maloney was here there and everywhere for the full 90 minutes, and in the first half he tried to pull the strings to get a goal, but none would shoot.
So with that in mind, the score was 1-0 as the players went in at half time.
I have of course forgotten the biggest highlight of the first half. When referee Lee Probert, was taken down by a combination of Steve Sidwell and Ben Watson on the half way line. The referee was rolling round in some pain, and brought cheers from both fans, as he was brought back to his feet by the Wigan medical staff. The red card was shown to all players for the foul!
We expected a reply and we got one from the Wigan players. They knew the fans wanted more and they wanted to show they could give more. In a frank 20 minutes of the second half, our team would try to get into the Fulham half as much as they can.
Thrice did we miss good chances. The first was a great bit of build up play from Shaun Maloney, who set Arouna Kone through on goal. We stood up in expectation, yet our new hero failed to beat a dependable Mark Schwarzer, who would go onto make some great saves throughout the half.
Mauro Boselli would come on early in the second half, and had to chances to score. The first the ball broke to him in the box with the keeper on the fall, all he could do was place the ball agonizingly wide. The second chance that came for him, was a Boselli chance, more service from the wide players, as a beautiful cross found the striker unmarked, yet his well placed header was tipped over the cross bar by Schwarzer.
Squandered chances and you felt like it would cost us. Eventually it would when Damian Duff would make it 2-0. The player being free at the back post, after the Wigan defense failed to clear the ball away from the goal properly. Duff was picked out at the back post, free with space to take a touch and put the ball past a lost Ali Al Habsi.
Our keeper had made a few good saves in the second half. The most notable being a diving stretch to his right hand post from a Fulham freekick.
Wigan would throw all they have at Fulham in the last 20 minutes. We even brought on our two young lads in Callum McManaman and Ryo Miyaichi on to try and go for the jugular. Yet they were unable to really make a difference. Both did look sharp but with only 15 minutes to change the game, they did have much of a chance.
We did however mange to get a goal back. In the last minute of Fulham time, a Shaun Maloney corner was for the first time not dealt with by the Fulham defence. After a bit of scrambling and the ball being kicked about, it finally fell to Arouna Kone on line with the penalty spot. The striker struck the ball home for a goal that gave hope.
In the end that was it was as Wigan lose their second game in a week, as we look forward to two more in the coming week.