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Queens Park Rangers had to settle for a draw against Wigan Athletic that made it 16 Barclays Premier League games without a victory for Harry Redknapp's side. James McCarthy gave Wigan the lead in the 19th minute with his first goal for almost two years before Ryan Nelsen levelled seven minutes later. Substitute Djibril Cisse looked like he might have won it for Rangers when he put them ahead against the run of play with 19 minutes remaining but McCarthy netted again three minutes later.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez struggled to name a full squad, with his problems most acute in defence, where Gary Caldwell and Maynor Figueroa were both suspended and Antolin Alcaraz and Ivan Ramis injured. Midfielder David Jones dropped into a back three with Adrian Lopez and Emmerson Boyce, while Redknapp set out his stall by preferring Shaun Derry to Esteban Granero in midfield.
Rain swirled around the DW Stadium as play started and it was the visitors who began the brighter, with Ali Al Habsi punching away a Shaun Wright-Phillips cross-shot and then gratefully grabbing a long-range effort from Adel Taarabt. Wigan had their first glimpse of goal in the 18th minute when Jose Bosingwa fouled Jean Beausejour 25 yards out. Jordi Gomez tapped the free-kick to David Jones, who flicked the ball up and sent in a volley that Rob Green tipped over the bar.
The home fans did not have to wait long, though. The first corner was cleared but Beausejour's second delivery fell to McCarthy on the edge of the area and he drilled a volley into the bottom corner, via a deflection off Jamie Mackie. It was the midfielder's first goal since February 2011, but Wigan's lead lasted only seven minutes. Nelsen attacked Taarabt's corner at the near post with much more gusto than any of the defenders and, although Al Habsi got a hand to the ball, he could not prevent the Rangers captain's first goal for the club.
Wigan could have hit back straightaway as Ronnie Stam's cross found its way to an unmarked Franco Di Santo at the back post but the Argentinian was stretching and could only direct the ball into Green's hands. Both teams ended the period with shots over the bar - Arouna Kone for Wigan and Wright-Phillips for the visitors.
McCarthy found himself in the right place again five minutes after half-time when a fortunate ricochet sent him clean through on goal but this time Green was out smartly and the midfielder shot straight at him. Moments later the Latics were inches away again, this time Beausejour sending in a cross from the left that was just too far in front of Kone and Gomez.
Rangers were under the cosh and Green was called upon in the 55th minute to push a Gomez shot over the bar. Green then dived to push away a Jones effort while he was beaten by Gomez from a tight angle but the ball hit the crossbar. Redknapp responded by sending on Djibril Cisse for Taarabt but they were finding it difficult to get out of their own half and Green had to claw away a Jones corner from under his crossbar.
Having weathered the storm, Rangers could have gone ahead in the 68th minute. Mackie teed up Stephane Mbia on the edge of the box but he shinned his shot and Al Habsi pushed the ball behind. They got another chance three minutes later, though, as Wright-Phillips was given space down the left to pick out Cisse, who slid the ball beyond Al Habsi's reach.
Wigan immediately went in search of an equaliser and were level again three minutes later. Beausejour squeezed in a cross from the left and picked out McCarthy in the middle, who poked his shot into the bottom corner from 12 yards. The home side came closest to nicking the points with three minutes to go as Kone drove into the area and set up Gomez for a shot from 16 yards that was clawed away by Green.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez: "From our point of view it is disappointing to concede two goals. I felt at the start of the second half we started clicking as a team, and we are disappointed that we couldn't get the three points.
"When you get the away team going ahead, it is always a real test and we did really well. Considering we had seven players missing today, the performance was of the highest level from our point of view."
QPR manager Harry Redknapp: “They got on top in the second half and we scored against the run of play and you hope you can hang on. We started well, kept it and passed it. They get a corner and the man on edge of the box stands there picking his nose and riffles in a shot. But I can’t lack the effort of the side as they are trying for sure.
“I don’t think it’s a confidence thing, I think it is a bit of quality but its three games we haven’t been beaten and we have just got to keep going. [Ryan]Nelsen is a leader and then Clint Hill gives me everything he has got when others might have written him off.”
“We need to win next week against Fulham at home and get to the window still in there to get one or two who might make the difference. This is similar to when I went back to Portsmouth with the team struggling and we managed to go on a run a stay up. I knew something wasn’t right with the amount of games we hadn’t won for but we have had three draws now and we have to try and make the difference on the training ground.”
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|26 Dec 2012||v Everton (A)|
|29 Dec 2012||v Aston Villa (A)|
|01 Jan 2013||v Man Utd (H)|
|12 Jan 2013||v Fulham (A)|