150-odd hardy souls that made the 200-mile trip north from London to Little Wigan were rewarded with a point, thanks largely to a fine show by goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer who made a string of excellent saves to keep his team in the game.
After being brutally treated by officials on Thursday in their Europa League match against Roma, the visitors were met with a somewhat kinder referee, namely one that didn’t actually send people off for the smallest of ankle taps. Quite the opposite, in fact, as Phil Dowd — who stepped into the breach at short notice to replace Mark Clattenberg — looked to keep his cards in his pocket for this mid-table clash.
Indeed, they were awarded a penalty that could be termed dubious. Reports have Titus Bramble bundling Clint Dempsey over in the penalty area, but from where I was sat, it seemed like the kind of jostling that goes on at every corner. On this precedent, one could even argue there should have been at least two or three penalties this afternoon. I may well be proved wrong by good (bad?) old Match of the Day, and if I am then you have my permission to berate me, but from my viewpoint in real time it all looked quite innocuous.
Update: So alright then, replays have shown it was indeed a penalty as Bramble chopped down Dempsey from behind. Next time I’ll resort to the Arsene Wenger ‘didn’t see it’ excuse to avoid getting egg on my face.
Dempsey stuck away the pen with aplomb, giving Fulham a great lift. The teams had earlier traded blows up until Latics’ goal on 13 minutes, which saw Emmerson Boyce fire the ball past Schwarzer’s right hand and into the back of the net for his second of the season.Fulham, Premier League, Report