Middlesbrough 0 Wigan Athletic 0

Last updated : 21 February 2009 By Footymad Previewer
Gareth Southgate's problems increased as Middlesbrough looked every bit relegation contenders on another dismal afternoon at the Riverside Stadium.

Boro, having scored only one Premier League goal in their previous eight outings, rarely looked like adding to this tally as they toiled against Wigan's solid back line.

To make matters worse, Boro lost influential French midfielder Didier Digard midway through the first half with a suspected serious thigh injury.

Digard was hurt in a strong but fair challenge from Boro old boy Lee Cattermole who was loudly booed by the home fans every time he touched the ball for the rest of the game.

Digard's loss was a huge body blow because Boro never really established any control in the middle of the park.

Stewart Downing was always a threat with his runs from deep positions but there was rarely an end product.

Boro's only shot on target came on the hour mark when Wigan keeper Chris Kirkland made a superb diving save to keep out a strong low drive from Downing.

Otherwise Kirkland was given terrific cover from his back four in which Titus Bramble was a man mountain.

With Cattermole regularly making strong challenges and man-of-the-match Michael Brown prominent at both ends for the visitors, Wigan controlled the ball for long spells.

In fact manager Steve Bruce will feel that this is a game they should have won because they had 11 efforts on goal compared to five from Boro.

But the Wigan attack was also blunt with Egyptian striker Amr Zaki's barren run continuing.

Brown tested Boro keeper Bradley Jones with a couple of shots from the edge of the box and Charles N'Zogbia also had a shot saved in the second half but otherwise this was a game designed not to worry the statisticians.

Boro have now gone 15 games without a win and it is hard to give them any chance of staying in the top flight, especially as they are stuck with non-scoring record £12.7million signing Afonso Alvez who is not even looking capable of getting efforts on target.

On the strength of this performance Wigan are not going to be good enough to grab the European place they are seeking.