Fortune favours brave in Albion fightback

West Bromwich Albion 2 Wigan Athletic 2
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The Independent Football

Marc-Antoine Fortune came off the bench to double his goal tally for the season and rescue a point for West Bromwich Albion last night, but as with Wigan, who had recovered from an early goal down to seize the lead, a draw was a frustrating return from a match they must have targeted as a win.

Albion, who have now won just once in eight matches, went in front through Peter Odemwingie's ninth goal of the campaign. Wigan retaliated impressively, Charles N'Zogbia and former Albion loan player Ben Watson converting free-kicks before the break, but Fortune's equaliser leaves them with an even sorrier record of one victory in 12 games.

It could have been worse for Wigan. Shortly before Albion's second goal Fortune and Chris Brunt each struck a post. In the siege that followed the substitute's intervention, only desperate defending, allied to heroic goalkeeping by Al al-Habsi, kept the home side out. Even so it was easier to see why Albion have the Premier League's worst goals-against record, now standing at 45, than to explain how Wigan had begun the evening with the poorest goals-for tally of 20, an unwanted distinction they have passed on to Birmingham City.

The Albion manager, Roberto Di Matteo, said: "I feel we deserved more because we hit the post twice and their keeper made some incredible saves. We also didn't get a penalty [for a possible hand-ball by Steven Caldwell] we felt we should've had." His Wigan counterpart, Roberto Martinez, lamented "two points dropped" and their failure to punish Albion early in the second half, when Boaz Myhill saved well from Franco di Santo and N'Zogbia.

"If we'd scored then, it was over," he said. "But we lost concentration [before Fortune scored] and it was disappointing to concede in that manner." The Spaniard also incurred worrying injuries to Maynor Figueroa (hamstring) and Gary Caldwell (broken cheekbone).

Carlos Vela, on loan from Arsenal, played promisingly on his Albion debut yet had scarcely touched the ball when his new colleagues mounted a classic counter-attack. The ball was played from a deep position to Jerome Thomas, who had strayed inside from the left flank, and his perfectly weighted through-pass found Odemwingie burning off Steve Gohouri before beating the advancing Al-Habsi from 16 yards.

Albion have not kept a clean sheet since August though and midway through the first half they showed why. N'Zogbia's angled free-kick would have foundered on the defensive wall had Youssouf Mulumbu not broken ranks and swung at the ball, helping it into the far corner of the net.

Another indiscretion in a dangerous position, when Gonzalo Jara fouled the marauding Figueroa, led to another free-kick, swung in from the left by Watson, which also found the far corner. Fortune's riposte was the least Albion deserved, but could not trick them into the third goal their supporters craved.

West Bromwich Albion (4-1-4-1): Myhill; Jara (Reid 77), Scharner, Olsson, Cech; Mulumbu; Vela (Tchoyi 58), Brunt, Cox (Fortune 65), J Thomas; Odemwingie. Substitutes not used Carson (gk), Ibanez, Morrison, Shorey.

Booked: Odemwingie, Jara, Brunty, Mulumbu

Wigan Athletic (4-1-4-1): Al Habsi; Boyce, G Caldwell, Gohouri, Figueroa (S Caldwell 70); Watson; N'Zogbia, McCarthy,(H Thomas 62), Diame, Rodallega; Di Santo (Moses 76). Substitutes not used Pollitt (gk), Gomez, McArthur, Stam.

Match rating 6/10.

Man of the match N'Zogbia.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Attendance: 25,358.