Fulham 0 Wigan Athletic 1: Camara snaps up the points

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The Independent Football

David Hasselhoff, Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe and the late Pope John Paul II have all declared allegiance to Fulham - according to a mixture of urban myth, actual fact and the big picture of "The Hoff" in Saturday's programme. The American actor was wearing a Fulham kit and smiling madly on behalf of the club's shirt sponsors.

For a long time in this match, the powers of Baywatch, Hogwarts and the Vatican seemed to be giving Fulham supernatural aid. Before Wigan scored in the 83rd minute, they missed a penalty. There was also a near-post header from Henri Camara that seemed to cross the line, but no goal was given. But then Camara defied any lingering suggestions of paranormal protection with his well-taken goal.

"Wigan played better football," said Chris Coleman. "I was very disappointed by how we defended and we didn't deserve anything out of the game."

It was a committed but unremarkable match, illuminated by Camara's electric yellow boots - and by an equally radiant performance from the Senegalese striker. There was also the sight of Emile Heskey and the Fulham captain, Zat Knight, tussling like stags at autumn rut. But if this pair have a chance of England involvement, neither greatly advanced their cause. Heskey was substituted early in the second half and a blocked Knight clearance started the master class in poor defending that led to Wigan's goal.

The result left neither of these teams' sharp young managers overly worried. Fulham are still in the Premiership top 10 and Luis Boa Morte returned after a month out with a broken cheekbone. It was Wigan's first away win of the season. These are clearly still marvellous days for the Latics - some way removed from the time in 1972 when, exasperated by numerous rejected applications for League membership, they applied to join the Scottish League Second Division. The win allowed Paul Jewell to look with equanimity at the way Denny Landzaat had placed his penalty precisely on to the bar.

"This was our best performance this season," said Jewell. "I don't think we played well last week [in the 4-0 win over Manchester City], but I thought we were great today. Now we just have to be sharper, more ruthless in front of goal. The only thing missing today was more goals, which I think we deserved. At half-time I was disappointed we weren't two or three up."

Next up for Fulham is a home match against Everton. Coleman is sure that wholesale team changes will not be necessary.

"No, our players don't deserve that, they deserve loyalty, because they've played great in getting us into the top 10," he said. "Even if we had [Jimmy] Bullard, [Papa Bouba] Diop and Boa fit all season, for us to be where we are would be great. We haven't had them and we're still there."

However, if Coleman should have any second thoughts about refreshing his team, there is someone waiting in the wings. As Mr Hasselhoff proclaims in his ad in the matchday programme: "Young, virile and athletic... I should play for Fulham!"

Goal: Camara (83) 1-0.

Fulham (4-5-1): Niemi; Rosenior, Knight, Pearce, Queudrue; Brown (Boa Morte, 68), Bocanegra, Volz (Routledge, 53), Jensen, Radzinski; McBride. Substitutes not used: Lastuvka (gk), Helguson, John.

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Kirkland; Boyce, Webster (Jackson, 64), De Zeeuw, Baines; Teale, Landzaat (Johansson, 77), Scharner, Kilbane; Camara, Heskey (McCulloch, 51). Substitutes not used: Pollitt (gk), Cotterill.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

Booked: Fulham Knight; Wigan De Zeeuw, Scharner.

Man of the match: Camara.

Attendance: 22,822.

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