Jase The Ace. Scotland bags his first goal for Wigan Athletic, but it wasn’t enough after a gaff from Scharner let Fulham back in the game and then a further lapse in concentration gifted the Cottagers the winner.

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE – Craven Cottage – Sunday April 4th 2010
Stefano Okaka (47)
Brede Hangeland (58)
Jason Scotland (34)

With Saturday’s results seemingly favouring Wigan, it was a great chance for the Latics to pull themselves out of the relegation scrap and towards Premier League survival. Only enforced changes from Monday’s game against Manchester City saw the Latics chasing a first away win since Wolves on the 16th January.

Fulham went in to the game after a fantastic mid-week Europa League game against Wolfsburg and Wigan must have thought that they would have been able to pick up three vital points.

Wigan made the brighter start to the game with Hugo Rodallega taking a shot within the first 5 minutes, signalling Wigan’s intent to get something from the game. However it did not take long for Fulham to find their stride. With the likes of Gera and Duff in the starting 11 it was always going to be a difficult day for the Latics. Duff provided a lovely cross into the area for David Elm to meet and he did so but was thwarted by Kirkland.

During the opening exchanges it was Wigan’s Rodallega who was the more active of the two team’s attackers. Rodallega was finding opportunities to strike at goal but was often denied by Gera or Hughes in the Fulham area. Some of Wigan’s defending will be called in to question and notably Paul Scharner’s attempted back heel which resulted in the centre back receiving a yellow card.

David Elm was a constant threat through the first half. Constantly testing the Wigan defence but as ever Kirkland was on hand to deny the Fulham onslaught. Wigan played some good football in and around the Fulham penalty area and N’Zogbia was unlucky to be called offside as he exchanged passes with Scotland on a mazy run. Latics fans will feel that the linesman did get the call wrong, and TV replays confirm that. If Roberto Martinez has seen this then he may have some more to say on the officials.

Then came Jason’s Scotland’s biggest moment in the Barclays Premier League in the 34th minute. A deep cross from Melchiot finds its way to Moreno who places a cushioned header to the feet of Scotland. A first time strike from Scotland saw Schwarzer beaten at his near post and Scotland ecstatic at his first league goal for the Latics. It was mere consolation for Wigan’s extensive pressure and attempts on goal and the Latics were well worth their lead. Schwarzer will be extremely unhappy at conceding the goal at his near post. The travelling Wigan fans finally found their voice and gave Wigan a major boost.

With the wind in their sails Wigan saw off the Fulham attack and made it through to half time with their lead intact. It was just what Wigan deserved for their relentless determination and desire in the first 45 minutes. At half time Wigan would have taken the 3 points and gone home but alas a familiar story was to unfold during the second half.

Roy Hodgson must have read the riot act to his team at the half time interval and he saw fit to make a change. David Elm was replaced by Okaka Chuka at the interval and he was to make a dramatic entrance.

Fulham’s goal came from another Scharner mistake. Instead of clearing the ball into the stand, Scharner decided to take on Gera, who ultimately won the ball from him just outside the area. On 47 minutes Gera cut into the Wigan area and played a tantalising ball along the ground to Okaka who did enough with virtually his first touch to take the ball past the Bramble challenge and pass Kirkland. Fulham were right back in the game and exposed Wigan’s defensive frailties.

Wigan did not sit back after the set back. Scotland, buoyed by his first goal, played a pivotal part in Wigan’s attack forcing defensive blockages and commanded the area in front of the Fulham defence. Rodallega forged himself an opportunity on 50 minutes. A lovely cross field ball from Titus Bramble was met by Rodallega who cut into the Fulham area but his shot was not good enough to challenge Schwarzer in the Fulham goal.

Both teams exchanged chances at either end. Rodallega challenged Schwarzer at one end whilst Okaka was doing his best to make Wigan pay. On 58 minutes game the major blow. Damien Duff sends in an out swinging corner in to the Wigan area which is met by Hangeland who is left unmarked in the Wigan area. Kirkland did his best to keep the attempt out put his hand to the ball was not enough to stop the ball trickling over the line.

The game seemingly stuttered towards the end. Both teams had attempts on goal but nothing that was good enough to challenge either keeper. It was as if Fulham were content with a one goal lead with one eye on the return leg against Wolfsburg. Wigan brought Moses, Watson and Sinclair on to change the game and it was these three players who looked the livelier in the closing stages.

It was definitely three points lost for Wigan in the relegation run in and Wigan can only have themselves to blame for the defeat.

Martinez said after the game that he was disappointed with the outcome as the team deserved more from the game with the performance they gave. He went on to say that Wigan gifted Fulham with the two goals and these were put down to a lapse in concentration.

Report by Simon Gregory

Cockney Latic Man of the Match: Mohammed Diame
Referee: Mark Clattenberg
Attendance: 22,730
1 Mark Schwarzer 1 Chris Kirkland
18 Aaron Hughes 25 Mario Melchiot
5 Brede Hangeland 7 Paul Scharner
3 Paul Konchesky 19 Titus Bramble
13 Danny Murphy 31 Maynor Figueroa
29 Simon Davies 27 Mohamed Diame
20 Dickson Etuhu 14 Charles N’Zogbia

David Elm

24 James McCarthy
16 Damien Duff 18 Marcelo Moreno
23 Clint Dempsey 9 Jason Scotland
11 Zoltan Gera 20 Hugo Rodallega
19 Pascal Zuberbuhler 13 Vladimir Stojkovic
7 Nicky Shorey 2 Steve Gohouri
26 Chris Smalling 4 Antonio Amaya
6 Chris Baird 15 Jordi Gomez
27 Jonathan Greening 8 Ben Watson
10 Erik Nevland 11 Victor Moses
9 Stefano Okaka 16 Scott Sinclair
13′     Yellow Card Paul Scharner
34′     Goal Jason Scotland
46′ Player Off David Elm
Player On Stefano Okaka
47′ Goal Stefano Okaka    
58′ Goal Brede Hangeland    
61′     Player Off Jason Scotland
Player On Victor Moses
63′     Yellow Card Maynor Figueroa
85′ Yellow Card Stefano Okaka    
85′     Player Off Charles N’Zogbia
Player On Ben Watson
85′     Player Off Marcelo Moreno
Player On Scot Sinclair
88′ Player Off Danny Murphy
Player On Chris Baird
88′ Player Off Stefano Okaka
Player On Erik Nevland

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