Premier League - Johnson earns Fulham point
Andrew Johnson scored his first Premier League goal in nearly two years to earn Fulham a 1-1 draw against Wigan at the DW Stadium.
Substitute Johnson, who last scored in March 2009, struck in the 86th-minute after Hugo Rodallega's well executed lob in the 57th-minute looked to have won the match for Wigan.
The point was still enough to take Wigan out of the relegation zone for 24 hours at least while Fulham drop one place to 15th.
The late dramatics added a satisfying conclusion to a match that took its time to get going.
The first half was pretty turgid stuff played in front of a half empty ground lacking in any atmosphere but both sides did have one big chance apiece before the break.
It was Wigan who had the first clear opening in the 27th-minute when Rodallega powered a bullet header off the post after Ronnie Stam had polished off a fine run down the right with a pin-point cross.
Five minutes later Fulham really should have taken the lead themselves. Clint Dempsey slid a nice pass behind a Wigan defence who were looking to play the offside trap; that sent Damien Duff clear with only Ali Al-Habsi to beat but the Irishman's shot lacked conviction and the Bolton owned goalkeeper saved with his legs. Duff also might have been able to slide the ball across to Diomansy Kamara if he didn't fancy the shot.
The second-half provided more entertainment and Wigan almost went in front in the 56th-minute when David Stockdale had to be alert to put another Rodallega effort onto the post – this time from close range.
The Colombian finally had his goal just one minute later though when he took full advantage of a long punt up the pitch. Aaron Hughes misread the flight of the ball and let it drop over his head; Rodallega then out-sprinted the Northern Irishman easily before calmly placing a lob over Stockdale and into the net.
That goal woke Fulham out of their slumber and they finally started to play some football, aided by the introductions of Moussa Dembele and Johnson off the bench.
It was Dempsey though who was looking the most likely man to equalise. His close range effort nearly snuck into the corner on 66 minutes but Al-Habsi saved and then he thought he had the equaliser in the 77th minute when he fired into the net only for the linesman to correctly spot that he had handled the ball while controlling it before shooting.
Fulham had the bulk of the possession in the final 15 minutes but Wigan themselves looked dangerous on the counter-attack which led to an entertaining finish to the game.
It was Johnson though who got the equalising goal four minutes from time to end a miserable couple of years for him personally that has been blighted by both injury and lack of form.
He did need a slice of luck though as his powerful shot from just inside the box was deflected by Antolin Alcaraz; Al-Habsi then made a fine effort to save the deflected strike but despite getting a strong hand to it, it just crept into the corner of the net. Credit too must go to Dempsey whose disguised pass set up the goal.
The match continued to be played at a frenzied pace to the finish and Brede Hangeland and Rodallega had half-chances before the end but ultimately a draw was probably the right result.