Fulham fightback keeps Wigan in the drop zone

Fulham 2 Wigan 1

Fulham 2 Wigan 1

A superb second-half fightback from Fulham ensured woeful Wigan remain in the relegation battle.

Goals from substitute Stefano Okaka and Brede Hangeland completed the home side’s recovery after Jason Scotland’s first Barclays Premier League goal for Wigan had put them in front in the 34th minute.

The defeat leaves Wigan in 16th place, just four points clear of the bottom three while Fulham remain on course for another top 10 finish so coveted by boss Roy Hodgson.

Fulham should have opened their account in the fifth minute when Damien Duff’s inswinging cross was met by the head of centre-forward David Elm.

But the striker could not find the power or the deftness to place his header beyond Chris Kirkland.

Wigan responded with some good work by Hugo Rodallega but the striker’s cross from the left flank was plucked out of the air by Mark Schwarzer.

Wigan defender Paul Scharner was booked for a foul on Elm in the 13th minute but Fulham failed to take advantage of the resultant free-kick.

Two minutes later Kirkland produced another fine save to deny Elm after Zoltan Gera had put the Fulham striker in the clear.

Fulham felt they should have had a penalty in the 18th minute when Gera appeared to be upended in the area by Mohamed Diame. Referee Mark Clattenburg was non-plussed, much to the fury of the home fans.

Wigan went close in the 28th minute when Scharner headed a corner by James McCarthy just wide of the target.

Fulham had Hangeland to thank moments later when Schwarzer spilled the ball to Scharner on the edge of the penalty area but the Wigan defender’s chip was cleared off the line by the tall defender.

Schwarzer redeemed himself in 31st minute when he tipped a long-range effort from Maynor Figueroa over the crossbar.

But the goal Wigan had threatened finally arrived in the 34th minute.

A deep cross from Mario Melchiot was knocked down by Marcelo Moreno for Scotland to send a low drive into the corner of the net for his first Premier League goal for the club.

Fulham almost got a surprise leveller five minutes before the break when a cross from Duff nearly deceived Kirkland but the Wigan goalkeeper managed to tip the ball to safety from under the bar.

Fulham replaced Elm with Okaka at half-time and it brought immediate success for the home side.

Gera robbed Scharner on the left flank and his low cross towards the edge of the six-yard box was turned home by Okaka.

Wigan’s Rodallega almost restored their lead in the 52nd minute but his 20-yard shot was well saved at the second attempt by Schwarzer.

At the opposite end, Duff forced Kirkland into a fine save when the Irishman unleashed a half-volley from 10 yards that threatened to find the corner of the net.

But Fulham went 2-1 in front in the 58th minute when Duff’s corner was met by the towering frame of Hangeland, who directed his header into the net off the far post.

Fulham continued to dominate as Wigan tried to pick up the pace again following the home side’s fightback.

Okaka almost managed to get free in the 69th minute but he failed to control the ball and it ran through to Kirkland.

Okaka’s eventful afternoon ended with him collecting a booking and then being substituted in the 88th minute with an ankle problem.

But his goal straight after half-time had sparked Fulham’s revival and despite some late injury-time pressure from Wigan, the home side hung on for a deserved win.

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