Fulham 2 Wigan Athletic 0
Joe Bryan’s first league goal for Fulham at the start of the second half set up the Whites for a much-needed win to restore faith in their promotion ambitions.
Scott Parker’s men found it tough going in their bid to end a five-game winless run in a bad-tempered match and after a fruitless first half, badly needed the pick-me-up Bryan provided.
A superb curling shot from outside the box from Tom Cairney on 84 minutes after a breakaway charge from Anthony Knockaert sealed the deal.
Left-back Bryan, who scored some spectacular goals for former club Bristol City, had an initial effort blocked, but fired in the rebound with his weaker right foot past keeper David Marshall – the relief inspiring a knee-slide celebration towards the Hammersmith End.
Wigan hit back almost immediately, with Lee Evans clipping a first-time shot onto the roof of the net, and with the mood continuing to be feisty, the points looked far from secure.
Following a melee in the Fulham area, Harrison Reed was yellow carded for a barge off the ball, then Aleksandar Mitrovic went into the book following a tangle with Joe Williams, who was also cautioned.
Wigan had two other players booked before then and the undercurrent of spikiness was never far away and made for an untidy contest at times. But Fulham had enough quality and mettle, to come through and revive their stalled progress in the Championship.
For the Whites, It was a familiar tale of owning much of the ball without threatening as much as they should in the first 45 minutes.
The tigerish Reed had a goalbound shot blocked and another straight into Marshal’s midriff, while Mitrovic volleyed tamely with another effort.
But Fulham looked more menacing as the half ended, with Knockaert forcing Marshall into a sharp save at his near post – Tom Cairney having slipped the winger into a shooting position.
Then, Mitrovic clipped just over after a tantalising low cross from the left from Ivan Cavaleiro.
If they took a while to find any rhythm, it was probably down to some robust challenges from the Latics, which seemed to knock the home side off their stride and the evening as a whole threatened to turn a bit House of Commons.
Luckily, the fans could give their team a firm vote of confidence by the end.
Fulham: Bettinelli – Sessegnon, Mawson, Ream, Bryan – Johansen (Arter 79), Reed, Cairney – Knockaert (Onomah 87), Mitrovic, Cavaleiro (Reid 69). Subs not used: Rodak, Odoi, Le Marchand, Kamara.
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