Wigan Athletic 0 Fulham 0
Latics were kept to a scoreless draw at the DW Stadium on Saturday, despite bombarding the Fulham goal with waves of attack.
They arrested a run of four successive defeats, but the result leaves Latics still without a win since their 3-0 success over Blackburn on August 13, and although they move up a place in the Championship table, they are still in the bottom three.
Latics weren’t without their chances in the first half though, far from it.
Often choosing to probe up the left with searching long balls, the likes of Michael Jacobs and Stephen Warnock managed to put either Yanic Wildschut, who came into the side to replace Reece Burke, or Will Grigg within range.
And at the other end, Alex Gilbey’s battle with Neeskens Kebano was developing nicely, with the Latics man enjoying the better of their tussles until going off injured in the 29th minute.
It was Gilbey though, who put his side under pressure first, when after two minutes his foul on Kebano resulted in a free kick for Jozabed, which was cleared.
From here, the focus was mostly on Wildschut and Gomez as they dipped in and out of enemy territory like X-wing fighters with each service from Jacobs and Warnock.
Grigg fired into the side netting after six minutes and there were also chances for Jacobs and Wildschut, but each were thwarted by a cluttered box which made getting through difficult.
Jacobs tried from distance after 21 minutes to the biggest gasp from the home fans, the ball coming within a whisker of the crossbar on its way to a crash landing in the South Stand.
Two chances fall to Dan Burn in quick succession as the half-hour approached, with Fulham struggling to regroup after each bombardment.
The first, from a corner when Wildschut forced Kevin McDonald to carry the ball out, was good for another corner, but he couldn’t quite get enough power behind his second attempt to trouble the scoreboard.
Gary Caldwell was forced to dip into his resources on the bench earlier than planned when Gilbey was brought off on a stretcher after 29 minutes.
Transfer deadline day signing Nathan Byrne was brought on for his home debut, and immediately went about making himself useful, winning headers and putting pressure on his opponents.
There was still no sign of a goal though, even when Jordi Gomez went close in the 33rd minute, though The Cottagers countered for their first chance in what had felt like a lifetime. Fortunately for Latics, Chris Martin was in a wasteful mood and was nowhere near the target with his header despite only having Adam Bogdan to beat.
The away side enjoyed a bit of a revival from here until the half-time whistle, Ryan Sessegnon having two chances, the best a diving header which Bogdan tipped past the post for a corner.
Latics came out all guns blazing for the second half, with Wildschut scoping the Fulham cover with a run into the box.
McDonald, for the second time in the afternoon, was forced to accept the best he would get from the tackle was conceding a corner, but Jacobs’ kick went straight into the arms of keeper David Button as if the ball was magnetically attracted to his gloves.
In the following minutes, Grigg and Wildschut exchanged chances before Caldwell got another injury scare when Warnock went down clutching his face.
Thankfully, a bit of magic sponge treatment worked and the skipper was able to continue.
As the hour mark approached, Ryan Sessegnon latched onto a cross into the Latics box to put Bogdan under pressure, and Martin managed to aim an overhead kick, albeit a weak one, at the Latics goal.
But after quickly dealing with the threat, the home side were back on with their own agenda of trying to break their opponents down.
Tom Kalas made a mess of bringing a simple ball under his feet in the 70th minute to gift Latics a launchpad from deep inside the opposition half and Shaun MacDonald was able to win a free kick from 30 yards out which Jacobs blasted into the 740 Fulham fans in the North Stand.
Grigg was pulled from the action with 25 minutes to go, giving another deadline day acquisition Adam Le Fondre a chance to impress his new employers.
He took exactly a minute to do that, taking a neat pass from fellow sub Byrne before hitting just wide of the target, a process Wildschut would copy a few minutes later after a strong run from Jacobs.
Nick Powell came on for Gomez for the final 15 minutes and he completed the trio of subs making a dent in the Fulham armour, winning a corner from a Wildschut cross five minutes after coming on the field.
Jacobs added another to his tally of chances when put into space by Max Power, though his shot went straight at Button and you started to get the feeling there would be no way through despite such relentless attack.
Fulham had one more go at Bogdan’s goal when Matt Smith fired wide, after a debateable handling of the ball by Ryan Tunnicliffe in the build-up, and minutes later, Powell very nearly won it with an effort that scuffed the paintwork on the bar.