Determined Wigan make light of financial divide

Wigan Athletic 1 Middlesbrough 1
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The Independent Football

The point increased their tally to seven from five matches following wins against Sunderland, with whom they were promoted, and West Bromwich Albion. How much would Mick McCarthy's beleaguered Wearsiders give, even at this early stage, to have that many on the board?

"We perhaps should have built on our advantage but credit to Wigan," Steve McClaren, the Middlesbrough manager, said. "They have some good players and a never-say-die attitude and a few visiting teams will come unstuck here this season."

But can Wigan, whose gates will certainly be the smallest in the division, really beat the odds? Their personnel gives them the look of a Championship side fighting above its weight but Jewell did keep Bradford in the Premier League, so anything is possible. Yesterday it appeared canny Middlesbrough, confidence high after last weekend's win over Arsenal, might embarrass them after Yakubu, running on to Mark Viduka's flick, had too easily given the visitors the lead. Wigan rode their luck a little, relieved to see Viduka squander one chance and Emanuel Pogatetz head another against the woodwork, but as the visitors, playing their third game in a week, began to tire, they grew in strength.

"It was a bad goal to give away but though we lacked a cutting edge at times I thought we played some decent football," Jewell said. "Middlesborough are a top-six side, but we kept patient, did not resort to just hitting it long and we were more than worth our point."

The early goal enabled Middlesbrough to play conservatively, closing the space between their midfield and defence and Wigan often found it difficult to make headway. When they did break through, they found Ugo Ehiogu and Gareth Southgate, those pillars at the heart of the Middlesbrough defence, in the mood to give nothing away.

It took the arrival of Camara, back in contention after a foot injury, to unsettle them, the Senegal striker replacing David Connolly after 63 minutes and snatching his first goal for the club within five minutes. A long forward pass from Leighton Baines forced Ehiogu, facing his own goal, into a hastyclearance, charged down by Camara, who then sidestepped Southgate before firing the ball past Mark Schwarzer.

Until then, Wigan had produced only one genuinely penetrative move. Middlesbrough now regretted not adding to Yakubu's goal. Later, Fabio Rochemback's failure to spot an unmarked Massimo Maccarone, substitute for Viduka, undoubtedly cost another chance, but with his defence increasingly stretched, McClaren happily settled for a point.

Goals: Yakubu (13) 0-1; Camara (68) 1-1.

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Pollitt; Chimbonda, Henchoz, De Zeeuw, Baines; Bullard, Kavanagh, Francis, McCulloch; Roberts, Connolly (Camara 63). Substitutes not used: Filan (gk), Jackson, McMillan, Taylor.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Xavier, Ehiogu, Southgate, Queudrue; Morrison (Doriva 44), Boateng, Rochemback, Pogatetz; Viduka (Maccarone 60), Yakubu.

Substitutes not used: Jones (gk), Bates, Graham.

Referee: U Rennie (Sheffield).

Booked: Middlesbrough: Pogatetz.

Man of the match: Camara.

Attendance: 16,641.