I salute thee, hardy souls! You are better men (and women) than I.
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.
Just in case you don't know it's the West Stand, they've very kindly labelled it for you.
For much of the half, and indeed the game, Latics enjoyed extended periods of possession and had the better of the chances. That’s not to say Fulham didn’t have the odd opportunity, however – most notably ten minutes into the second half, Clint Dempsey and Jonathan Greening teamed up to force a double save from Wigan keeper Chris Kirkland.
Fulham looked a little bit jaded, though, and Wigan gradually moved into a position of dominance, mostly thanks to the midfield heroics of Diame. They met a worthy adversary in the form of Mark Schwarzer, who was arguably the visitors’ man of the match, making solid saves first from Hugo Rodallega and then Paul Scharner.
The inevitable became apparent ten minutes from time as Fulham looked to hold on to what they had. Despite some excellent support from the Latics faithful, the home side could not grab that crucial second goal. In fact, Fulham made some promising breaks, and could have snatched all three points in the final ten minutes.
But it still feels like two points dropped as Latics — not for want of trying — failed to put away their opponents by taking their chances. Let’s hope a similar Wigan team turns up at Tottenham exactly two weeks today and we manage to hit the back of the net a few more times.