Wigan 1 Tottenham 1

  • By: Ian Parkes, PA Sport
  • Last Updated: October 8 2012, 18:52 BST

Emile Heskey salvaged a point for Wigan for the second time in six days against visiting Tottenham, although their fight for survival is far from over.

Huddlestone and Palacios battle for the ball.

Bolton's win at Middlesbrough means the Latics' are now just five points clear of the Premier League relegation zone with three matches remaining.

That means Wigan fans will not be allowed to rest in a time of the season famously described by Sir Alex Ferguson as 'squeaky bum time', although Heskey's strike soon after Dimitar Berbatov had opened the scoring means another point gained for the Latics, rather than two dropped.

Bizarrely, this was a game that had a distinct end-of-season feel to it, but only for the fact it was played with an openness more akin to two teams with nothing on the line.

In Spurs' case that was definitely true, with comments levelled of late that manager Juande Ramos' players have spent most of the last few weeks as if they had already began their summer holidays.

Given the way they started this game, though, that was far from the case as they appeared the team in desperate need of points to avoid the drop.

After just 10 seconds captain Robbie Keane found himself in space inside the area, but his eventual shot was weak, allowing Chris Kirkland to make a relatively comfortable save.

Yet that chance set the tone, and with Aaron Lennon marauding down the right wing, it was Wigan's defence whose minds were seemingly elsewhere.

Just five minutes later the electric Lennon had powered his way towards the deadball-line before turning a low ball into the six-yard area where Berbatov sidefooted home with ease.

It was his 23rd goal of the season, ending Wigan's proud home record of five successive clean sheets stretching over eight hours back to mid-January.

The Latics' back four was still sleeping 80 seconds later when Lennon waltzed his way past a number of lame challenges to the edge of the area.

A short lay-off to his left found an unmarked Steed Malbranque, but Kirkland continued with the heroics that had proved so crucial to Wigan claiming a superb point at Chelsea on Monday.

The confidence gained from that result ensured no heads dipped in the Wigan ranks as they were back on level terms seven minutes later.

Following a mis-control from Keane, Wigan broke with devastating effect with a move that involved Paul Scharner, Marcus Bent and Kevin Kilbane.

From Kilbane's cross, Heskey turned on the ball and drilled a 15-yard shot beyond Radek Cerny, just inside his left-hand post.

Heskey was being man-marked by Didier Zokora, who was playing at centre-back in the absence of Jonathan Woodgate after the latter's late withdrawal with a slight ankle injury.

It is hard to imagine Woodgate would have been so easily duped by Heskey, but Tottenham's loss was undoubtedly Wigan's gain.

What then followed was a game where the midfield was virtually bypassed altogether, turning it into a clear defence-versus-attack affair.

Bent and Palacios had chances for Wigan, similarly with regard to Alan Hutton and Michael Dawson for Spurs, who perhaps should have headed into the break with the lead.

Referee Lee Probert, though, dismissed what appeared to be a clear penalty when Wigan captain Mario Melchiot hauled down Berbatov, to the anger of the Bulgarian.

Fortunately, the open nature of the game was not restricted to the first half as the second was as equally entertaining.

Bent had the best chance after Kilbane, Michael Brown and Palacios had all combined in the build-up, with the latter splitting Spurs' defence with a precision ball on the hour.

With only Cerny to beat, Bent opted for power over finesse and crashed his shot against the crossbar, with the rebound just eluding Heskey.

Before that, Spurs arguably played the better football, only for Kirkland to thwart Lennon at point-blank range, while Keane failed to capitalise on a Scharner slip.

After the miss from Bent, Jermaine Jenas blazed over after being afforded a clear sight of Kirkland's goal by Keane.

Although the entertainment value remained high, inevitably the chances dried up, despite Wigan being the more pressing side as they searched for a winner.

It came at a cost, though, as both Heskey and Bent limped off late on with injuries that will prove a major concern for Bruce at such a critical stage of the campaign.

Teams:

Wigan Kirkland, Melchiot, Boyce, Scharner, Kilbane, Valencia,Palacios, Brown, Taylor (Koumas 81), Bent (King 84),Heskey (Sibierski 76).

Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Skoko.

Booked: Valencia, Palacios.

Goals: Heskey 12.

Tottenham Cerny, Hutton, Dawson, Zokora, O'Hara, Lennon,Huddlestone, Jenas, Malbranque, Keane (Bent 72), Berbatov.

Subs Not Used: Forecast, Tainio, Gilberto, Rocha.

Booked: O'Hara.

Goals: Berbatov 6.

Att: 18,673

Ref: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).