Match Report: Wigan Athletic 1-0 Norwich City

Paul Thomas

A must win was the emphasis on this one. The win against Newcastle could all come undone if we didn't managed to beat Norwich and start to pull ourselves out of the bottom three. Thanks to a superb Arouna Kone goal in the last ten minutes of the game, Wigan went home happy.

The same team, the same Stadium and yet another pack crowd. The mixture was all the same, and we needed the same result. It didn't matter how we got three points, what mattered this weekend was that we got the three points. Winning sees us climb seven points clear of Reading and QPR, while we climb out of the bottom three on goal difference,

So with the two doubts making the starting line up, could we start again positively? We had a lot of the ball, but that zip and bounce to the Wigan play wasn't quite there. Five of the starting line up had featured for their country in mid-week so fatigue could have been a factor. Yet that doesn't excuse a lack of effort.

To say we played badly would be too much, to say we were mediocre at time hits the spot. Norwich though didn't seem to really know what to do. They looked good when going forward, they had pace to burn and were able to expose Paul Scharner as a weakness at the back, even with Kie Kamara winning more or less every ball, they just looked lost.

It was the lack of confidence in their side, none was on a run of form to take the ball up and have a shot on goal. It left Joel Robles with very little to do for most of the game, the Under-21 international was only called into action once in the first half, but dived well to make the save; yet the player was ruled offside.

Down the other end Wigan were probing. It was close but no cigar. Arouna Kone seemed to be everywhere at once the striker coming close on two occasions in the first half. The first one, a lovely flowing move worked by Shaun Maloney, with a flick from Emmerson Boyce, Kone then tried to side foot the ball into the goal, just crept wide. The second chance was well saved by a sprawling lee Camp.

Half time and we were all left a little disappointed. Apart from Antolin Alcaraz and Arouna Kone, no one else was really hitting top form, and Jordi Gomez was worst than that. Yet it could have been worse.

Roll on the second half, and roll on a slow and sluggish Wigan side. There was just lacking that sparkle, that little hint of magic which we have seen in recent matches. None looked really like producing it, Kone was doing exceptional well up front to run the channels and hold the ball up, but none was there to help him out.

Both wide-men (Jean Beausejour and Callum McManaman) were having a quite day. A few good crosses did sneak through to the box, yet either the keeper or a defender were able to clear them away before a Wigan player got on the end of it.

Down in the other box, and I am trying to think when Joel was called into action. It certainly wasn't when Kie Kamara was on the pitch. The Norwich City striker was an even bigger handful in the second half, and with Wes Hoolahan playing just off him, you felt it would only be a matter of time before they worked a chance.

When they did look close to scoring, in stepped the strong and dependent Antolin Alcaraz. You would not think the player had been away for six months, his composure and assurance on and off the ball is superb. Alcaraz was unlucky not to get on the score sheet. A corner in from the left hand-side was met by the Paraguayan, but a clearance off the line denied him his goal.

You felt that a Latics goal just wasn't going to come. But with ten minutes to go, after Norwich attack the Latics broke fast and clinically. Shaun Maloney picking up the ball, the midfielder was able to lay it off quickly to Jordi Gomez before he was fouled. Gomez in possession brought the ball over the half way line before setting Kone free down the right hand-side.

The Ivorian used his pace and burst into the box, before unleashing a near post strike, which blasted past the Norwich City goalkeeper Lee Camp. What a strike and the Wigan crowd went mad, ten minutes to hold out for the three points.

Norwich brought on everything they hand Grant Holt and Lucciano Becchio were thrown on up front to bolster their attack. Yet desperate headers and clearances saw Wigan hold out for their third win on the trot, and the moment to see us climb out the bottom three.

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