WIGAN WERE LEFT frustrated as QPR ground out a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final at the DW Stadium on Friday.
There was little goalmouth action in a tense battle between two sides desperate for promotion 12 months after crashing out of the Premier League and Wigan’s Marc-Antoine Fortune spurned the only real chance in the second half.
Harry Redknapp’s QPR will be happier with a result which gives them a slight advantage heading into the second leg at Loftus Road on Monday.
Wigan were playing their 61st game of the season after European and FA Cup exploits and looking to secure a fifth trip to Wembley in little over a year against either Derby or Brighton.
Latics boss Uwe Rosler declared in the build-up that he would not become involved in mind games with Redknapp and Derby boss Steve McClaren, who had both suggested Wigan were one of the favourites for promotion.
But Rosler did point out QPR’s large wage bill, which he described as three times larger than his club’s, and that verbal sparring set the tone for a tetchy encounter in Lancashire.
It was no surprise that the first half was tight, with more yellow cards than sights of goal.
Wigan defender Gary Caldwell spurned an early chance, placing a free header from a corner tamely into the arms of Robert Green.
The tackles were robust and when Richard Dunne was booked for felling Callum McManaman in the 23rd minute the only surprise was that referee Mike Jones had kept his cards in his pocket for as long as he had.
A minute later McManaman and James McArthur were both booked for fouls within seconds of each other.
The luckiest man on the pitch may well have been Clint Hill, though, who appeared to elbow Rob Kiernan in an incident early in the game that neither referee nor crowd spotted.
Caldwell was looking to create openings with long balls and he did just that five minutes later, picking out Wigan’s player of the year Jordi Gomez, who chested the ball beyond a defender but fired a volley straight at Green.
Wigan should have scored in the 62nd minute when the ball ricocheted around the penalty area before Kiernan’s drilled ball fell perfectly for Fortune, who could only blaze over an open goal from eight yards.