Barclays Premier League: Norwich City 1, Wigan Athletic 1
18:14 11 March 2012
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Victor Moses struck midway through the second half for the Premier League’s bottom club, Wigan Athletic, to deny Norwich City victory in the televised encounter at Carrow Road.
Wes Hoolahan marked his 150th appearance for the Canaries by giving them a 10th-minute lead from Simeon Jackson’s cross.
But goalkeeper John Ruddy was kept very busy with a string of saves either side of the interval and with City below their best for much of the afternoon, it was no great surprise when Wigan levelled midway through the second period, Moses rounding Ruddy to score from a pass by substitute Shaun Maloney.
The equaliser signalled a rousing final 20 minutes in which both sides could have snatched the points. City substitute Steve Morison had one header cleared off the line and another brilliantly saved by Ali Al Habsi, while Wigan substitute Mohamed Diame also had two opportunities to have wrapped up victory.
All in all, a draw was probably a fair result, but there were times when a shock victory looked a distinct possibility in a match marked by eight yellow cards.
City boss Paul Lambert made five changes after the 1-0 defeat at Stoke with recalls for full-back Adam Drury, midfielders Andrew Crofts and David Fox, forward Wes Hoolahan and striker Simeon Jackson.
Hoolahan was making his 150th senior appearance for the club
Out from the eleven that started at the Britannia Stadium were Russell Martin, Bradley Johnson, Elliott Bennett and Anthony Pilkington – all of whom were on the bench – and midfielder Jonny Howson, who did not feature in the squad of 18 a week after making his debut.
The starting eleven for the Canaries featured 10 players involved in promotion from the Championship last season.
Wigan showed two changes after the 2-0 home defeat by Swansea, with Victor Moses and Hugo Rodallega returning for Franco di Santo and Conor Sammon.
Before kick-off, skipper Grant Holt was presented with the player of the month award for February.
Wigan had the first attempt on goal in the fourth minute when Rodallega headed wide from a cross by Gomez.
But City’s first real chance produced the opening goal in the 10th minute from Hoolahan.
A badly sliced clearance by goalkeeper Al Habsi gave the Canaries a throw-in on the left. Drury took it quickly and Jackson, on the left side of the area, managed to cross towards the near post where Hoolahan got ahead of a ponderous Caldwell to poke the ball over the keeper.
It was Hoolahan’s fourth goal of the season – his first had come at Wigan on the opening day - and his 30th for the club.
Moses missed a useful opening after 17 minutes when he struck a tame shot straight at Ruddy after McCarthy and Rodallega combined to put him through.
In a swift counter-attack, Crofts fired narrowly off target after Holt had teed up the chance from Drury’s cross.
Jackson then shot wide with a poor effort after good work by Crofts.
Wigan had their best opening yet after 26 minutes when Rodallega turned smartly on to a cross from Moses and struck a firm shot that Ruddy did well to hold at close range.
Holt had a quiet opening half-hour but was there was an opening when he was sent racing away by Naughton’s clearance and as he cut inside on to his right foot, his shot was blocked by Caldwell, but appeals for handball by the City skipper went unheeded.
There was a delay while Crofts needed treatment and had strapping applied to his left leg.
There was an escape for City nine minutes before the break when a cross from Boyce clipped Drury, looped over Ruddy and struck the face of the crossbar before being bundled clear.
Hoolahan had another shot blocked by Caldwell, and Al Habsi gathered Jackson’s cross under pressure from Holt as the Canaries pressed again.
Wigan were piecing together some neat moves and Gomez curled a shot just wide, although Ruddy appeared to have it covered.
There was another opening when Gomez struck a fine shot that Ruddy saved but couldn’t hold and Rodallega pounced on the rebound but fired over from a tight angle as Ward challenged him.
As play switched to the other end, Jackson cut in from the left touchline but shot high and wide.
City were living dangerously and as the game entered first half stoppage time, Gomez set up Rodallega for another powerful shot that Ruddy again failed to hold, but grabbed at the second attempt just before Moses could take advantage.
• Half-time: Norwich City 1, Wigan Athletic 0
Wigan threatened in the opening seconds of the second half when Moses got the better of Naughton but his cross was just out of reach of McArthur as Surman managed to clear.
Swiftly counter-attacking, City went close when Drury crossed from the left and Holt’s very deliberate header was just wide.
City escaped again when Ruddy was called upon to save from McCarthy after a one-two with Gomez left him through on the ’keeper, who smothered the shot.
Wigan made a change 10 minutes after the break when Maloney replaced Gomez, and Whitbread made an important challenge on Moses as the visitors broke through again.
With just over half an hour remaining, Lambert made City’s first change when he replaced Holt with Morison, Hoolahan taking the captain’s armband.
Morison’s first contribution was making an important clearance inside the six-yard box from McCarthy’s ball into the danger area.
At the other end, Morison did well to chase down Naughton’s through-ball and get in a cross, with Jackson and Surman both having shots blocked.
Ruddy saved again at his near post when Maloney helped on a Moses corner, and there was no doubt Wigan were enjoying the upper hand.
The visitors grabbed the goal they deserved after 68 minutes, too, when Maloney’s through-ball put Moses through one on one against Ruddy and he swerved past the keeper before tucking the ball home.
Lambert immediately made a double change with Elliott Bennett and Pilkington replacing Crofts and Surman.
Ruddy had to race out and clear again from Rodallega, and Drury became the third City booking of the afternoon when he brought down Moses as he chased the loose ball.
Jackson wasted a good opening when he got the better of Alcaraz on the left but shot into the side netting.
Two yellow cards went Wigan’s way and both players may have been a touch fortunate as first McCarthy pulled Bennett down by the neck, then Alcaraz tripped Jackson on the edge of the area.
On the second occasion, Pilkington took the free-kick but curled it over the bar.
Beausejour then rescued Wigan when Morison got his head to Pilkington’s corner and he headed clear with the keeper beaten, then Ward headed just wide from Bennett’s cross.
Diame replaced McCarthy with five minutes to go and his first involvement was putting a great chance over the top from Maloney’s cross.
With two minutes left, Morison was denied by a brilliant one-handed save from Al Habsi when he met Jackson’s cross with a powerful header.
As the game entered five minutes of stoppage time, Rodallega was off target with an overhead kick, then Diame missed a good opening when he pulled his shot wide when he was clean through.
Moses was booked a foul on Drury, and McArthur was next into the book for grabbing Hoolahan round the waist.
• Result: Norwich City 1, Wigan Athletic 1
• Norwich City: Ruddy; Naughton, Ward, Whitbread, Drury; Fox; Crofts (Elliott Bennett, 69), Surman (Pilkington, 69); Hoolahan; Holt (Morison, 59), Jackson. Subs (not used): Steer, Russell Martin, Johnson, Wilbraham.
• Wigan Athletic: Al Habsi: Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa; Boyce, McArthur, McCarthy (Diame, 85), Gomez (Maloney, 55), Beausejour; Rodallega, Moses. Subs (not used): Kirkland, Watson, Di Santo, McManaman, Stam.
• Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
• Attendance: 26,653
• Goals: City: Hoolahan (10). Wigan: Moses (68)
• Bookings: City: Holt, Hoolahan, Whitbread, Drury. Wigan: McCarthy, Alcaraz, Moses, McArthur.