Wigan Athletic 1 Middlesbrough 1

Malky Mackay in his first game at the helm

Malky Mackay in his first game at the helm

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SHAUN Maloney’s fantastic first-half free-kick was not quite enough to give new boss Malky Mackay the perfect start to his Wigan Athletic managerial career.

Maloney had earlier hit the bar with an almost identical set-piece, but his second effort was a couple of inches lower - and flew into the top corner.

Adam Forshaw came desperately close to sending Latics into the interval with a 2-0 lead, only to see his volley - after another Maloney free-kick had been half-cleared - narrowly miss an unguarded net.

Boro came into it more after the break and levelled just before the hour mark when substitute Patrick Bamford scored with his first touch past an exposed Scott Carson.

Back came Latics and they almost regained their lead immediately when Maloney’s corner was volleyed against post by Leon Barnett.

Latics couldn’t push through what would have been a crucial winning goal despite some good pressure at the end.

But they will reflect on a satisfactory afternoon overall, with Chris McCann making his first start after eight months out, and Ben Watson appearing off the bench in the final quarter for his first involvement since February.

Dave Whelan was also given an emotional standing ovation before the game as he took his seat in the directiors box, in a real show of unity from the supporters to their under-fire chairman.

FOR A FULL MATCH REPORT, REACTION AND PICTURES, SEE MONDAY’S WIGAN EVENING POST