Deep in the relegation skirmish, Reading have become used to barbs about feeling the heat and being in hot water. So their mood was hardly lightened by the goings-on after a tension-riddled stalemate that left them less satisfied than their hosts.
Not only had Birming-ham and Bolton also picked up draws, but the JJB Stadium's showers were dispensing only cold water. Such was the displeasure of the towel-clad Marcus Hahnemann and Michael Duberry that the Wigan manager, Steve Bruce, and the centre-forward, Emile Heskey had to remind them that the home team had suffered the same discomfort.
If only the game had provided such compelling viewing. Wigan's Marcus Bent hit the woodwork and Michael Brown, twice, and Marlon King, tested Hahnemann. Kevin Doyle, choosing to play despite being told by his manager, Steve Coppell, at lunchtime that his cousin and her family had just died at their home in County Wexford, finished waywardly from two of Reading's best chances. Leroy Lita and Duberry threatened from close in, but there was little else.
The draw takes Wigan to the brink of survival. For Reading, only games against Tottenham Hotspur at home and away at Derby County stand between them and the drop.
"We were looking to see how the other teams had done as soon as we got back in," said their captain, Ivar Ingimarsson. "It's still in our own hands and that's all we can ask at this stage. If we win our last two games, we'll be in the Premier League next season."
Bruce, having anxiously paced his technical area in anticipation of a goal that would have taken any potential sting out of Wigan's remaining games, against Aston Villa and Manchester United, said: "It's not very good for the health. I'll try my best to calm down."
Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Kirkland; Melchiot (Taylor, 26), Boyce, Scharner, Kilbane; Valencia, Palacios, Brown, Koumas; Heskey (King, 73), Bent (Sibierski, 74). Substitutes not used: Pollitt (gk), Skoko.
Reading (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Rosenior, Ingimarsson, Duberry, Shorey; Doyle (Little, 69), Harper, Bikey, Hunt; Kitson, Lita (Long, 86). Substitutes not used: Federici (gk), Cissé, Matejovsky.
Referee: M Atkinson (Kent).
Booked: Wigan Athletic Kilbane, Taylor. Reading Shorey, Hunt, Bikey, Duberry.
Man of the match: Palacios.
Attendance: 19,043.Reuse content