In an era where establishing a Premier League foothold has proved beyond the majority of promoted clubs, Fulham and Wigan deserve high praise for refusing to surrender their hard-earned elite status since securing it in 2001 and 2006 respectively.
The signs before this match were that, with this season's three newcomers all having started so promisingly, the losers would be installed among the favourites to make a return to the Championship next May.
Wigan proved the most unfortunate of fall guys as they, not Fulham, slipped into the relegation mire a quarter of the way into the campaign. Dominant they may have been, but ineffective they undoubtedly were as they continued an alarming losing habit of eight straight defeats in all competitions.
However there has been no vociferous dissatisfaction among the Wigan faithful towards Roberto Martinez – as there has been with Steve Kean up the road at Blackburn – who earlier this year banked a sizeable chunk of moral support when refusing to take the option of a move to Aston Villa.
If justice had been done on Saturday, Martinez and his deflated troops would have earned themselves vital breathing space in advance of what are potentially winnable fixtures against Wolves, Blackburn and Sunderland.
Gary Caldwell, Wigan's struggling captain, must shoulder much of the blame for this latest reverse, heading appallingly over the bar from inside the six-yard box in the first-half. That miss, along with another in the closing stages by the centre-back, emphasised the hard-luck stories brought about by Victor Moses and Maynor Figueroa striking the frame of the Fulham goal.
Martin Jol, manager of a Fulham side who had not won on this ground in 11 visits, appreciated that fortune prevailed a week after it deserted his side against Everton. Jol was grateful that Clint Dempsey extended his record against Wigan to six goals in nine meetings. A clinching second, also against the run of play by Moussa Dembele just before the end, flattered the visitors.Reuse content