Premier League: Wigan Athletic 1 Norwich City 0
By Football News
Wigan came out on top in their vital clash against Norwich City, earning a 1-0 victory in an edgy Premier League encounter at the DW Stadium.
The relegation battle looked set for a scoreless stalemate until a late strike from Wigan's Arouna Kone gave the home side a priceless three points to climb out of the bottom three.
The victory gives Roberto Martinez's side their first back-to-back home wins this season in a game where Chris Hughton was left rueing a lack of penetration in the final third.
Wigan named an unchanged team from their 2-0 win over Newcastle two weeks ago, with under-fire Callum McManaman starting despite the striker touted as a possible doubt with an ankle injury.
In spite of their precarious league position, the fixture - with such a huge bearing on the relegation battle - started off tentatively.
Martinez’s trademark possession football failed to break Norwich down in the early exchanges, allowing the visitors the chance to start several counter-attacking chances during the first-half.
Yet Norwich lacked any real bite in the final third, a problem highlighted by their tally of just 28 goals all season.
It was Wigan who produced the first real opportunity of the game on 26 minutes when a ball from Emmerson Boyce allowed Kone the chance to strike a low effort on goal from outside the box but his shot dragged wide of Lee Camp's right-hand post.
Kone continued to offer a glimpse of light going forward but his attempts on goal were often hit with little conviction.
Jean Beausejouer's cross on 40 minutes brought half-hearted appeals for a penalty when the ball appeared to strike Russell Martin's hand in an otherwise timid first 45 minute of football.
The sides entered the second period unchanged, and it took until the 58th minute for the next slice of excitement to arise when Bradley Johnson's ambitious effort from long-range whistled past the Wigan post.
Wigan picked up the pace and on the 70th minute mark came close when Antolin Alcaraz's towering header from an in-swinging corner was hacked off the line by Johnny Howson, who held his position on the near post.
Jordi Gomez was then given a great opportunity to put the home side ahead as the game neared its conclusion, but snatched at his shot inside the penalty box and his drilled attempt failed to break through the resilient Norwich defence.
Yet Martinez’s faith in his Wigan side paid off when Kone hit a thunderous drive with 10 minutes remaining, beating Camp at his near post to give the home side a vital three points in their bid for Premier League survival.
The win sees Wigan move to 30 points, ahead of Aston Villa and out of the bottom three on goal difference.