Latics overcome Hall red card to claim crucial point

Watford 1 Wigan 1

Jewell believed referee Phil Dowd contributed to his team’s 2-1 defeat at Arsenal earlier this month, and he was left perplexed again here when Fitz Hall was harshly shown a straight red card in the 20th minute for a challenge on Johan Cavalli.

Jewell must have feared the worst when Darius Henderson put the home side in front shortly after, but Caleb Folan equalised five minutes before the interval.

That ensured the Latics collected a deserved point and moved five points clear of the Barclays Premiership drop zone, while the Hornets are now six points adrift of safety.

It was an even opening 20 minutes with both teams creating chances, but Wigan’s prospects were dealt a severe blow in the 20th minute.

Hall was shown a straight red card, apparently for a two-footed lunge on Cavalli.

Replays suggested the decision was very severe, and things went from bad to worse for Wigan when they fell behind four minutes later.

Jordan Stewart turned Steven Kabba’s mis-hit shot from right to left back into the path of Henderson, who bundled the ball over the line from one yard.

To their credit, Wigan responded to their ill luck in the best fashion, pushing forward in search of an equaliser.

In the 28th minute, Ryan Taylor swung over a corner from the right, and Matt Jackson’s looping near-post header was turned over the bar by Foster.

Wigan kept pressing and they came close once more in the 38th minute when Folan stretched to prod the ball wide from six yards after Leighton Baines had picked him out with a fine low cross from the left.

Five minutes before the break Wigan scored the equaliser they deserved when, following Josip Skoko’s hopeful ball forward, Folan ran onto Jay DeMerit’s weak back-header before guiding the ball past Foster and into the bottom-right corner.

Watford had struggled to contain Wigan’s 10 men in the latter period of the first half, and Boothroyd opted to bring on Hameur Bouazza for Cavalli for the second 45 minutes.

The early signs were promising, Henderson heading just wide from 12 yards after climbing the highest to reach Mariappa’s cross from the right.

But the Hornets lacked the guile to make their numerical advantage count, and they were lucky not to go 2-1 down in the 73rd minute.

Landzaat raced unchallenged into the penalty area, but instead of picking out the unmarked Emile Heskey, the midfielder shot, allowing Foster to make a fine save before Gavin Mahon beat substitute Kevin Kilbane to the loose ball.

Although Watford continued to press as time ticked away, their lack of creativity was painfully evident, and Boothroyd’s team were even booed off at the end of the game.

WATFORD: Foster, Mariappa, Mackay, DeMerit, Stewart, Smith, Mahon, Francis, Cavalli (Bouazza 46), Henderson, Kabba (Hoskins 62).

WIGAN: Filan, Hall, Boyce, Jackson, Baines, Taylor, Landzaat, Skoko, McCulloch, Heskey, Folan (Kilbane 55).

Referee: R Styles (Hampshire).

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