WATFORD remain bottom of the Premiership tonight (Wednesday) after they were unable to break down the stubborn resistance of ten men of Wigan Athletic in a 1-1 draw at Vicarage Road.

It looked like fortune would continue to favour the Hornets in the first-half when Latics defender Fitz Hall was harshly shown a straight red card by referee Rob Styles, and the home side made their advantage count almost instantly through Darius Henderson.

However, the complexion of the game changed with an injury to Ben Foster, as Watford went into their shell and Caleb Folan scored the equaliser before half-time.

The second-half was largely a scrap but the home side dominated the latter stages as Wigan tired but although Henderson and Hameur Bouazza went close, the Hornets were unable to find the winner that would have moved them within four points of their opponents.

Aidy Boothroyd, as expected, made three changes to the team that edged past Ipswich in the FA Cup, with Ben Foster, Malky Mackay and Jordan Stewart all recovering from their respective minor injuries in time to replace Richard Lee, Dan Shittu and Chris Powell. However, the fact there was no room for any of the displaced trio on the bench said everything about the magnitude of the game as the Hornets boss opted to go without a replacement keeper and have three strikers - Bouazza, Tamas Priskin and Will Hoskins - as back-up.

Paul Jewell, meanwhile, made two changes to the team that was so unlucky to lose to Arsenal last time out. With Chris Kirkland and number two keeper Mike Pollitt both injured, John Filan took his place in between the posts while emergency signing Carlo Nash was on the bench. The other change was up front with January signing Folan replacing Julius Aghahowa.

The entertainment started before kick-off with Marlon King coming on the pitch and urging the home faithful to "raise the roof". And the Hornets start to the game in the first minute matched the build-up, with Henderson doing well to hold off a challenge in the area as he chested down Adrian Mariappa's long throw to Tommy Smith. The winger then did well to reach the by-line and stand up a cross which Filan was unable to come for, but the ball was cleared.

Smith was involved in the action again three minutes later when he dug out a low cross towards the near post which Johan Cavalli worked back towards Damien Francis, but the midfielder fired straight at Filan. Soon after though, the Latics had an opportunity when Folan's cross from the right picked out Lee McCulloch in a central position in the area, but he side-footed tamely at Foster.

But after a bright first five minutes, the game became the expected fully committed scrap until the game took a sensational twist in the 20th minute when Hall was shown a straight red card for a two-footed challenge on Cavalli. Not that Watford will care, but replays showed Styles' decision looked harsh as Hall won the ball, although he did have both feet off the ground in doing so. But, if anything, Cavalli's challenge on Ryan Taylor that drew the tackle was possibly worse as he went over the ball.

But three minutes later the night got even better for the Hornets. A ball forward from halfway was flicked on by Henderson to Steve Kabba, who had a good shooting opportunity. However, he dragged his effort across the face of goal but Stewart did very well to keep the ball in play and square it back across the six-yard box for Henderson, so long without a goal, to bundle in his second in consecutive league games.

However, the visitors were in no mood to lie down and surrender and from their first corner in the 29th minute Foster had to arc his back and tip over a flicked header from Matt Jackson that might well have gone under his bar. A minute later the England keeper was called into action again to make a terrific double stop to thwart Folan, after he got clear of Mariappa, and then keep out Denny Landzaat's follow-up. Worryingly though, Foster was injured in making the challenge but although he was soon back on his feet, Boothroyd was taking no risks and ordered no back passes from the touchline.

Wigan continued to press and Watford survived a minor scare in the 36th minute when Gavin Mahon lost possession in midfield but McCulloch was unable to keep his shot down from 25 yards.

The visitors went closer still a minute later when Leighton Baines slid an indefensible low pass across the six-yard box but the stretching Folan was unable to wrap his foot around the ball and the chance went wide.

Foster continued to be a concern though, as Mariappa took over goal-kicking duties and from one of his clearances in the 40th minute Wigan equalised. Jackson headed the ball back, Landzaat lumped it forward from midfield and Folan got goal-side of Jay DeMerit to prod the ball past the helpless Hornets keeper and inside the far post to make it 1-1.

That was to remain the score at half-time, but after Foster's injury the Hornets lost their composure and, at times, looked almost panic-ridden amid suggestions that Boothroyd's decision not to have a substitute keeper would backfire.

However, Foster appeared for the second-half, together with Bouazza who replaced Cavalli at the break.

Watford were straight on the front foot, with a good Mariappa cross from the right headed wide by Henderson, and they continued in the ascendancy until Wigan made their first change in the 55th minute, bringing on Kevin Kilbane for Folan.

Boothroyd followed suit seven minutes later by bringing on Hoskins for the largely ineffective Kabba, but chances were at a premium as the game became increasingly scrappy and edgy, although Kilbane did warm Foster's gloves with a long-range effort after 71 minutes.

The Hornets keeper then had to make a better save when Wigan broke on the counter and Ryan Taylor fed Landzaat, who galloped clear down the right before homing in on goal, only to be thwarted by Foster, who judged his angles well.

Bouazza was yellow-carded in the 77th minute for a clear foul on Kilbane, but Henderson displayed his renewed confidence soon after when he received the ball near the edge of the area and, with options either side, he chose to chance his arm with a well-struck drive that only just cleared the bar.

Moments later, Filan was very nearly embarrassed by a superb piece of vision by Bouazza. The Frenchman received the ball back from Stewart wide on the left and at least 30 yards from goal. A cross looked the only option, but Bouazza spotted Filan off his line and went for a powered lob that the back-tracking keeper only just managed to push over his bar.

With Wigan's ten men clearly tiring, the Hornets continued to force the issue, with Stewart firing a left-footed angled volley straight into Filan's mid-rift. Bouazza then saw another effort deflected over, and then Henderson hooked the ball wide of the target after Mackay had helped on Mariappa's ball back into the danger zone.

But that was to be Watford's last attempt as frustration filled the air at the final whistle.

Watford: Foster; Mariappa, DeMerit, Mackay, Stewart; Smith, Francis, Mahon, Cavalli; Henderson, Kabba. Substitutes: Bouazza for Cavalli after 45 mins; Hoskins for Kabba after 62 mins; Doyley, Bangura and Priskin not used.

Wigan Athletic: Filan; Hall, Boyce, Jackson, Baines; Taylor, Landzaat, Skoko, McCulloch; Folan, Heskey. Substitutes: Kilbane for Folan after 55 mins; Camara, Valencia and Unsworth not used.

Bookings: Hall sent off for dangerous play after 20 mins; Bouazza for a foul on Kilbane after 77 mins; McCulloch for a foul on DeMerit after 84 mins.

Attendance: 18,338.

Referee: Rob Styles.