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Lee Nicholls makes a save

Lee Nicholls makes a save

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WIGAN had to settle for a point against Harry Redknapp’s men at the DW Stadium leaving them nestling in the middle of the Championship table.

Chris McCann headed against the woodwork - just as he did at Charlton last Sunday - but apart from that Latics struggled to work Rangers goalkeeper Robert Green.

Not even the second-half introduction of new-boy Marc Albrighton - who had joined on an emergency loan from Aston Villa earlier in the day - could tip the balance Wigan’s way.

And Callum McManaman wasted a golden opportunity to celebrate penning a new one-year contract extension when blazing over the top from a good position.

Owen Coyle had made three changes for the game, with Ryan Shotton, Jordi Gomez and McManaman stepping in for Thomas Rogne, James McClean and Ben Watson.

Joey Barton was the big-name absentee from the Rangers ranks through suspension, but the visitors nevertheless started in positive mood and bossed the early possession.

Niko Krancjar fired an early effort way over the head of Lee Nicholls, making his home debut for Wigan in the continued absence of Scott Carson.

Latics were stretched when James McArthur was robbed on halfway by Junior Hoilett, who made his way towards the Wigan goal with purpose.

However, the Scot was determined to atone for his error and won the ball back cleanly to the relief of his colleagues.

Latics threatened for the first time when Green saved well from Nick Powell, although the goalkeeper was responsible for the pressure after punching out a free-kick from the same player that he could easily have caught.

At the other end, Nicholls collected Alejandro Faurlin’s corner with supreme confidence.

Rangers looked like they were in when Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s cut-back found Jermaine Jenas, whose shot was going wide before being blocked by the offside Gary O’Neil.

Leon Barnett was then robbed by Charlie Austin on the edge of his own box, but the attempted cross was too far in front of Hoilett and Nicholls intercepted.

Shotton committed two fouls in quick succession inside Wigan territory, and appeared to be told by referee Michael Naylor that another would bring about an unwanted card on his 25th birthday.

After a probing run, Jenas failed to find Austin, who then stabbed wide from a great position.

Rangers were forced into a change just before the interval when Niko Krancjar limped off to be replaced by Matt Phillips, who immediately took up his place on the left wing where he was marked by his cousin, Latics skipper Emmerson Boyce.

Latics made a change of their own at the break when Marc-Antoine Fortune took over from Holt, and the home side came flying out of the blocks.

The new man saw a goalbound shot blocked by Clint Hill at the expense of a corner, the first of three in quick succession.

From the third, McManaman fired just wide of the target, before Latics came even closer to the all-important opening goal.

A teasing Gomez cross from the right was perfectly flighted, and McCann headed against the woodwork for the second match in a row.

The rebound fell to McManaman, who blazed his shot over the top from 10 yards.

With Latics pushing more and more men forward, Rangers were looking increasingly dangerous on the break.

Phillips seemed to get past Boyce only for the Wigan man to get back to cover, before Jenas’ cross rolled just in front of Austin who would have had a tap-in.

The Wigan chief made his final play with 16 minutes remaining, sending on Albrighton and McClean for Gomez and McManaman.

At the same break in play, Harry Redknapp replaced Hoilett with Andy Johnson - a man familiar with finding the net against Latics in the past.

A scramble in the Rangers goalmouth resulted in McClean shooting into the side-netting, before a flashpoint at the other end.

Johnson chased a long ball forward and got to the ball before Nicholls, who was yards outside his area.

The striker went down as he went round the goalkeeper and, with the visitorws screaming for a free-kick - and a possible red card - the official waved play on.

In a crazy three minutes of added time, the official somehow missed a blatant foul on Powell in centre-field, which allowed Rangers one last attack.

Phillips sprinted towards the byline before being helped off the ball by McArthur, with Mr Naylor this time angering the visiting support behind the goal by waving play on.

Latics: Nicholls; Boyce, Shotton, Barnett, Perch; McCann, McArthur; Gomez, Powell, McManaman; Holt.

Subs: Pollitt, Beausejour, Watson, Espinoza, McClean (for McManaman, 74), Fortune (for Holt, 46), Albrighton (for Gomez, 74).

QPR: Green; Simpson, Dunne, Hill, Assou-Ekotto; Jenas, O’Neil, Faurlin; Krancjar, Hoilett; Austin.

Subs: Murphy, Traore, Phillips (for Krancjar, 45), Johnson (for Hoilett, 74), Onyewu, Chevanton, Henry.

Referee: Michael Naylor