West Brom 2 Wigan Athletic 2

Ben Watson's free-kick is headed past the West Brom keeper for Latics' second goal
Ben Watson's free-kick is headed past the West Brom keeper for Latics' second goal
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LATICS came within 11 minutes of only their second away win of the season, but had to settle for a point at fellow strugglers West Brom.

The home side had got off to the best possible start, when Peter Odemwingie raced through to put the Baggies ahead in the fifth minute.

But super free-kicks by Charles N’Zogbia and Ben Watson had Latics ahead by the interval mark, and the visitors had great chances to make the game safe, only for Franco di Santo and Hugo Rodallega to fluff their lines in front of goal.

And they were made to pay, when substitute Marc-Antoine Fortune nodded home the equaliser deep inside the final quarter.

Latics will be kicking themselves for letting slip another lead, although the Baggies were probably worth their point after hitting the woodwork through Fortune and Chris Brunt.

Roberto Martinez had recalled Di Santo for the clash, with Rodallega reverting to the left-hand side opposite N’Zogbia.

There was a return to the Hawthorns for former Baggies loanee Watson, while ex-Latics ace Paul Scharner lined up at centre-back against his old club.

Latics threatened inside the opening 30 seconds, when a long ball from the back by Gary Caldwell was pounced on by Rodallega, but his attempted lob was deflected wide for a corner by Jonas Olsson.

And the Baggies made them pay by finding the net with their first attack.

Jerome Thomas threaded through a lovely slide-rule pass towards Odemwingie, who showed Steve Gohouri a clean pair of heels, before sliding the ball under Ali Al Habsi.

The ease in which the home side cut through the Wigan defence, like a knife through butter, was alarming, and it was the same again three minutes later, when Carlos Vela and Odemwingie combined to release Gonzalo Jara down the right, but his cross was cut out by Caldwell.

Brunt then floated over an inswinging free-kick, that was glanced goalwards by Olsson, with Al Habsi making the save, even though the centre-back was flagged for offside.

Watson failed to make the most of Wigan’s first corner, his effort well over-hit, and the midfielder’s night got worse, when he was yellow-carded for grounding a flying Vela on the edge of the Wigan box.

The set-piece came to nothing, but Latics won a dead-ball kick of their own on the 20-minute mark, when N’Zogbia came inside, and was tripped by Youssouf Mulumbu.

N’Zogbia simply dusted himself down, before curling a wicked free-kick past Boaz Myhill and into the far corner of the net, to the delight of the travelling army from the north west.

The Frenchman was causing more trouble moments later, when he released Emmerson Boyce down the right, and the cross was only just in front of the onrushing Di Santo.

Vela wasted a decent shooting chance for Albion on 28 minutes, before N’Zogbia again danced his way through, and smashed a shot that was well saved by Myhill on his near post.

Odemwingie was then cautioned for a poor lunge on Figueroa, Jara following suit moments later for a push on Figueroa.

From the second offence, Watson tried his luck from the left-hand side of the box, and his fizzing effort from 20 yards found the far corner in an almost mirror-image of N’Zogbia’s earlier strike.

It was no more than Latics deserved for a stirring response to going a goal behind, although they needed a timely block from Gohouri, after Odemwingie volleyed goalwards to keep their lead going into the break.

The Baggies started the second period the better, and Marek Cech fired over the crossbar within 30 seconds of the restart.

But Latics responded in superb fashion, and should have extended their lead a minute later.

Di Santo got the better of Scharner, after a hopeful punt downfield by Figueroa, and his shot was parried by Myhill, with Rodallega blazing the rebound high and wide when he should have done better.

Latics were nearly made to pay on 49 minutes, when Thomas cut in from the left and sent a searching effort inches over the bar with Al Habsi not getting there.

The goalkeeper was on hand moments later, though, when Thomas again tried his luck from the left-hand channel.

Myhill came to West Brom’s rescue just before the hour mark, when N’Zogbia again got the better of Cech, and weaved inside before shooting against the keeper’s legs.

Rodellega wasted another gilt-edged opportunity seconds later, when he lashed over from 15 yards with only Myhill to beat.

Martinez threw on Hendry Thomas for McCarthy on 62 minutes, and the Honduran was booked within two minutes for a late challenge on Simon Cox.

The impact was such, it ended Cox’s night, Fortune coming on for the home side, and Latics were forced into a switch of their own, when Figueroa had to be stretchered off following an innocuous challenge in midfield.

That meant a slight adjustment in the back four, with Steven Caldwell coming on alongside brother Gary and Gohouri switching to the left-back position.

It was a tough baptism of fire for Caldwell senior, who immediately saw Fortune run off him and plant a super shot that beat Al Habsi, but cannoned back off the right-hand post.

The Baggies were cursing their luck again moments later, when Brunt this time steadied himself before firing in a left-footer that once more evaded the goalkeeper’s fingertips, but hit the same piece of woodwork on its way behind.

With Latics hanging on for dear life, Victor Moses appeared for the final 14 minutes, replacing Di Santo, who had run himself into the ground as the lone frontman.

But the pressure eventually had to tell, and West Brom found their leveller with 11 minutes remaining when Thomas’ cross was headed home by Fortune.

It nearly went from bad to worse two minutes later, when Brunt’s corner found the head of Olsson, only for Al Habsi to pull off a fabulous save diving to his right.

And Wigan were indebted to their No.1 again in injury-time, when he somehow got his foot to a goalbound effort from Brunt to deflect it to safety.