Norwich City 2, Wigan Athletic 1

Wes Hoolahan scores Norwich City's winning goal. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images Wes Hoolahan scores Norwich City's winning goal. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

Saturday, December 15, 2012
5:10 PM

Wes Hoolahan celebrated signing a new contract with Norwich City by heading the winning goal against Wigan to stretch his side’s unbeaten Premier League run to 10 matches.

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The decisive goal from Hoolahan came after 64 minutes at Carrow Road to give the Canaries their fifth successive home league win, with Anthony Pilkington also on target for the third home league game in a row.

Pilkington struck first after 15 minutes with a rising shot after determined work by Hoolahan, and City might have extended their lead before the break.

Pilkington jabbed another chance wide, and Robert Snodgrass had a header from point-blank range clawed away by Wigan ’keeper Ali Al Habsi.

Wigan made them pay on 51 minutes when substitute Shaun Maloney equalised with a rasping shot from the edge of the Norwich area.

But just as Wigan seemed to be growing in confidence after a poor first half, Hoolahan restored City’s advantage in the 64th minute. Pilkington returned the favour by twisting away from Emmerson Boyce and crossing to the near post, where Hoolahan beat Al Habsi with a firm header.

The Canaries regained the ascendancy after that but it still took a fine tackle by Sebastien Bassong on Arouna Kone to deny Wigan the chance of a stoppage-time equaliser.

Victory took Chris Hughton’s team into a heady seventh place in the table with 25 points, a very healthy tally with two more matches to go before they reach the halfway stage of the league season.

The Canaries showed five changes after the midweek Capital One Cup home defeat by Aston Villa.

Back from injury were Steven Whittaker (hip), Alex Tettey (thigh) and Hoolahan (groin), while there were recalls for centre-back Michael Turner, out since the home win over Manchester United with a shoulder problem, and full-back Javier Garrido.

Of the five left out from Tuesday night, Russell Martin, Leon Barnett, Jonny Howson and Steve Morison were dropped to the substitutes’ bench and there was no place for Marc Tierney.

Wigan made two changes after the 2-2 draw with Queens Park Rangers with defender Maynor Figueroa back from suspension and Mauro Boselli included in attack.

Before kick-off, Sebastien Bassong was presented with the player of the month award for November and it was announced that Hoolahan had signed a new contract running to 2015.

Skipper Grant Holt was making his 150th senior appearance for City.

A free-kick for a foul by Lopez on Holt gave City their first dead-ball opportunity, but Pilkington’s ball was headed away by McCarthy.

With eight minutes gone, Tettey tried his luck as he took Whittaker’s pass and let fly from 20 yards, his right-foot shot going a couple of feet past the post.

Wigan won a corner when Bassong hacked away Stam’s cross and when the kick was cleared, Gomez fired high into the crowd.

But with 15 minutes gone, City went ahead when Pilkington scored for the third league home game in a row.

Hoolahan’s determination set up the chance as he wriggled through, lost the ball once but won it back from Wigan skipper Boyce with a timely tackle, and teed up Pilkington to beat Al Habsi with a rising left-foot shot.

Midway though the half there was a long delay while McCarthy was treated after Johnson trod on his foot, the City midfielder being shown the yellow card. The home crowd became impatient with the hold-up.

Bunn saved from McArthur, grabbing the ball at the second attempt, as Wigan threatened for the first time, then Snodgrass tested Al Habsi after weaving through at the other end.

Pilkington was shown the yellow card for diving when he went down under challenge from Lopez, which further aggravated the home fans.

They were increasingly angry when Hoolahan was wrestled off the ball by Stam and referee Probert again saw no offence.

Pilkington almost had a second on 33 minutes when Al Habsi failed to hold a cross by Snodgrass and he poked the loose ball just across the face of goal.

Whittaker almost added to his goal at Swansea with a determined run and well-struck effort that fizzed past the post.

Kone headed wide from a cross by Beausejour in a rare Wigan raid, but it had been one-way traffic and it was very nearly 2-0 on 37 minutes. A splendid move involving Hoolahan and Pilkington ended with Garrido crossing into the six-yard box, but Snodgrass, with a free header, did not get enough power on it and Al Habsi clawed it away one-handed.

Lopez became the first Wigan player booked for a foul, but four minutes before the break, Boselli brought Bunn into action with a header from a cross by Stam.

• Half-time: Norwich City 1, Wigan Athletic 0

Wigan made two changes at the break as Jones replaced the hobbling McCarthy and Maloney came on for Gomez.

Holt went close to a goal in the opening minute of the half as he latched on to Whittaker’s through-ball and tested Al Habsi with a powerful shot from a tight angle.

Substitute Maloney wasted a free-kick from just outside the Norwich area after Tettey had been penalised, taking it more like a rugby conversion and clearing the bar by yards.

But six minutes into the half, Maloney did much better with a well-taken equaliser. Kone did the legwork on the left side of the Norwich area and rolled the ball back perfectly for Maloney to rifle a shot home from just outside the penalty area.

Bassong became the third City player booked on 57 minutes when he fouled McArthur, trying to make up for having given the ball away.

Bunn had to dive to his right to keep out a shot by Figueroa as Wigan began to look a more dangerous side.

There were appeals for handball as a cross from Pilkington appeared to bounce up and strike Beausejour on the arm but play carried on and Holt might have done better than put a scissor-kick volley wide from a Snodgrass cross.

But it was 2-1 on 64 minutes when Hoolahan scored his first league goal of the season.

Pilkington was the provider, taking Garrido’s pass and turning Boyce inside and out before crossing to the near post, where Hoolahan beat Al Habsi with a firm header.

It was the third time in a row Hoolahan had scored against Wigan after netting in both fixtures last season. It was also City’s first Premier League goal at the River End of the ground since April.

Johnson tried to make it three with a powerful drive that Al Habsi dived to his right to keep out.

Wigan made their final change when Di Santo replaced Bosell with 18 minutes left.

Al Habsi denied the irrepressible Pilkington with another fine save as City looked for a third goal to make the game safe.

With five minutes left, goalscorer Hoolahan made way for Howson in City’s first change.

Snodgrass curled another shot wide before, in the final minute, Morison replaced Holt.

Four minutes of stoppage time were signalled as the change was made.

Wigan were down to 10 men with Lopez receiving treatment, but it took a brilliant challenge by Bassong on Kone to stop him levelling the scores.

Elliott Bennett replaced Pilkington in the final minute of time added on.

Kone fired into the side netting with Wigan’s last chance.

• Norwich City: Bunn; Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Garrido; Tettey, Johnson; Snodgrass, Hoolahan (Howson, 85), Pilkington (Elliott Bennett, 90); Holt (Morison, 90). Subs (not used): Rudd, Russell Martin, Barnett, Jackson.

• Wigan Athletic: Al Habsi; Boyce, Lopez, Figueroa; Stam, McCarthy (Jones, 45), McArthur, Beausejour; Gomez (Maloney, 45); Boselli (Di Santo, 72), Kone. Subs (not used): Pollitt, McManaman, Fyvie, Golobart.

• Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

• Attendance: 26,677

• Goals: City: Pilkington (15), Hoolahan (64). Wigan: Maloney (51)

• Bookings: City: Johnson (22), Pilkington (26), Bassong (57). Wigan: Lopez (41)

25 comments

  • Hoo Hoo Hoo lahan ! Just back from the D&A with the Dubai Canary supporters - I am three sheets to the wind - and happy as a Sandboy tonight - OTBC You did it lads - well done ! Up to 7th in the PL !!

    Report this comment

    Dubai Canary

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • Good 3pts as we were against 12 men on the pitch where do they get refs from nice to see the river end gets the winning goal OTBC

    Report this comment

    Spud

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • At least until tomorrow we are 7th in the prem and 2 points of a champions league spot! wow, another great win, well done lads

    Report this comment

    MBA Marine

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • Canaries fly high again and again. I'm proud to be a Sporean yellow army.

    Report this comment

    Jaszli Johari

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • Superb result again. Great manager & fantastic team effort. What worries me is where are the negative doom and gloom trolls who were so vocal on here after Tuesday night?

    Report this comment

    Konrad54

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • The point is, andys has the humility to admit he was wrong and has eaten a fair bit of humble pie as a result. Good man! My humble pie moment was ref. Michael Turner, who has proved me wrong, I`m pleased to say. Like andys, I worried about Hoots` approach in the early games (Hoolahan, Vaughan, Jackson) but more about individual frailties like those of Turner. Never doubted that Hoots was the best choice of manager we could have made at the time, and he still is. Hoolahan is a revelation under this régime, a treasure. IHWT (and I`ve always said that!).

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, December 18, 2012

  • Fantastic result and great to bounce back so soon. The starting 11 today really works and we could have easily won more comfortably if it wasn't for the heroics of Al Habsi in their goal. We can kick on no and look for another valuable away win at West Brom next week, a good time to play them. Fingers crossed on Holt's knock too!

    Report this comment

    Harry Waye-Barker

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • All these people claiming they never doubted hoots from the beginning make me laugh. I for one wrote him off after the home defeat by Liverpool and I am glad to eat tons of humble pie

    Report this comment

    andys

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

  • 7th in the Premier League with 6 wins and an incredible 25 points before Christmas.A tribute to teamwork and what is turning out to be a splendid scouting operation.Congratulations to Chris Hughton.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • Mellow Yellow and yours truly were right there with you in our support for CH at the start of the season Bluelight, but it did feel at times that we were well in the minority. Moving on from that, I agree with everyone that a class striker would be a welcome addition in the New Year, but with the current formation as it is, where would he play? Would you drop Holty?

    Report this comment

    Johnny Gavin Lives

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • Well I think it was worth saying it twice

    Report this comment

    MBA Marine

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • Good move by Norwich. West Hoolahan is indeed an important player.

    Report this comment

    Jaszli Johari

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • Guys I wrote CH off because the only two games I managed to get to before the turn around was Fulham away and Liverpool at home. Therefore you might now understand my pessiimiism .

    Report this comment

    andys

    Wednesday, December 19, 2012

  • The only thing we seem to lack is an inability to convert massive territorial advantage into killer goals. We have suffered the same problems in our last 3 or 4 league games. Making it far harder for ourselves than need be. We may or may not need a new goalkeeper in January....but we definitely need a striker

    Report this comment

    Algarve Canary

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • Great result today. In the BBC interview, CH said that Holty had a slight hamstring problem and would be assessed. I hope it is nothing too serious as we approach the heavy festive period fixtures.

    Report this comment

    mellow yellow

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • A fantastic result (and performance) today, but I have to say what an absolutely diabolical referee! Also, I have admire Al Habsi for some time now, wouldn't be such a bad thing to have a punt on him if Ruddy goes elsewhere!

    Report this comment

    wisemanthree

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • So andys you wrote him off after 6 yes 6 Premireship games. I'm glad that you're not on the board of Directors at NCFC! If I could be bothered to search this site there was a thread where several on here including myself told the rest to give Hughton a chance as he was not PL and needed to put his mark on the team. Feel free to browse and then eat humble pie on your last post too!

    Report this comment

    baguio

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

  • What a win and what a points haul. Hoolahan is awesome and Pilks is getting into some good form now. I have never written Hughton off. He was the man I wanted to take over, but I will happily say that I have had doubts and I have been critical of some of his decisions early on, but he has learnt the different qualities of the squad now and we are flying. 6 games was never long enough and I believe that you have to give a manager a decent chance. He has done magnificently, and the team are really responding. Onwards and upwards. IHWT

    Report this comment

    Preston Canary

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

  • What a win and what a points haul. Hoolahan is awesome and Pilks is getting into some good form now. I have never written Hughton off. He was the man I wanted to take over, but I will happily say that I have had doubts and I have been critical of some of his decisions early on, but he has learnt the different qualities of the squad now and we are flying. 6 games was never long enough and I believe that you have to give a manager a decent chance. He has done magnificently, and the team are really responding. Onwards and upwards. IHWT

    Report this comment

    Preston Canary

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

  • where are all the doom and gloom merchants who mocked me early in the season when we conceded a few goals i said lay off hoots he will get things right.what have they got to say now?otbc

    Report this comment

    bluelight

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • I certainly would`nt swap this result for the villa one. A vital win - we have both team and a manager to be proud of .

    Report this comment

    spark

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • Good 3pts as we were against 12 men on the pitch where do they get refs from nice to see the river end gets the winning goal OTBC

    Report this comment

    Spud

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • Great result, glad Hoolahan has signed. The goals won us the game but if there is a competition for saving tackle of the season Bassong is the clear winner- magic. Another great night in my local watering hole in Chinatown where more and more are appreciating the style of the Canaries - even the local paper had us down for a "banker" against Wigan! But for great display from Al Habsi it would have been more comfortable; coming back to win another plus point. As for the ref...OK moving on it makes it sets up for the WBA game. OTBC

    Report this comment

    Jakarta (ex-Singapore) Canary

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

  • I was with you too bluelight. 7 games was never going to be enough time for a new manager at a new club to work out his best team. And yes I'm smiling at their impatience and naivety also but not as much as I am smiling for our football team. Get in there!

    Report this comment

    baguio

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

  • At least until tomorrow we are 7th in the prem and 2 points of a champions league spot! wow, another great win, well done lads

    Report this comment

    MBA Marine

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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