Whaley strikes to sink Premier side
David Cuffley SLIDESHOW: Winger Simon Whaley proved the matchwinner for the second game in a row when he scored the decisive goal in a notable Norwich City victory over Premier League side Wigan Athletic in today's final pre-season friendly at Carrow Road.
Norwich City 3, Wigan Athletic 2
The upstairs, downstairs world of Norwich City's management team is set to continue into the new campaign after boss Bryan Gunn decided he liked a more elevated view of events on the pitch.
Gunn has taken to watching from the stand rather than the touchline during the Canaries' pre-season matches, and sat alongside reserve team boss Ian Crook among the elite in the directors' box for the victory over Premier League side Wigan, while assistant manager Ian Butterworth and goalkeeper coach Paul Crichton performed the Mr Hudson and Mrs Bridges roles with the playing staff below stairs.
The City boss, who spent much of the second half of last season patrolling his technical area, in close contact with the dug-out, said he was inclined to keep to the new arrangement.
“It does give you a different view. Sitting beside Ian Crook, we can discuss things and transfer the information quickly to the bench,” he said. “As long as Paul Crichton gets his radio right - we had a couple of problems during the day - it gives you a different dimension and I suppose so far, apart from St Johnstone, I've kept away from the side of the pitch. We'll wait and see.
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“There has been a lot of positive stuff so far, not too many negatives and if it's all positive, I'll probably stay in the stand longer. It's given me something to think about as well. It's not set in stone, but during pre-season it's worked and if I'm sitting in the stand in the 90th minute against Colchester, it means things have gone right.”
City struck a minor blow for the downtrodden lower reaches of the Football League with their success against Wigan, although the top-flight outfit did make eight changes at half-time.
There was plenty for a crowd of nearly 9,000 to admire from the Canaries, who fielded five summer signings in their starting line-up, including winger Simon Whaley, who scored the winner for the second game in a row after his goal at Crystal Palace last Tuesday, and midfielder Stephen Hughes, making his first appearance since his free transfer from Motherwell.
The first serious attack delivered a goal when Wigan took the lead in the ninth minute. Wes Hoolahan was caught in possession and Ben Watson set up Charles N'Zogbia, who scored with a simple sidefoot finish, low to goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos' right.
Striker Chris Martin had already dragged one effort wide of goal when he levelled the scores in the 37th minute.
Wigan full-back Maynor Figueroa's control let him down and Jon Otsemobor burst down the right, got away from Titus Bramble, and crossed low into the six-yard box where Martin sidefooted home.
A much-changed Wigan regained the lead three minutes into the second half when Jason Scotland's pass set up fellow substitute Won-Hee Cho, who gave Theoklitos no chance with a fierce rising drive.
Whaley almost levelled the scores when his rising right-foot shot was tipped over by goalkeeper Michael Pollitt, but the home crowd did not have long to wait for an equaliser.
In the 57th minute, Hughes played a one-two with Gary Doherty and the ball clipped Owain Tudur Jones' heel before Martin finished with a well-placed right-foot shot.
The decisive goal came in the 76th minute with two of City's best performers, Otsemobor and Hoolahan, playing their part in the build-up. Otsemobor headed clear from a corner and Hoolahan floated a beautiful pass into the path of Whaley, who found just enough space to tuck a low right-foot shot between Pollitt and the post from the edge of the area.
Norwich City - Theoklitos; Otsemobor, Spillane, Doherty, Drury; Hughes (Adeyemi, 59 min), Tudur Jones (Gill, 59 min), Hoolahan; Whaley, Holt (Cureton, 77 min), Martin (McDonald, 69 min). Subs (not used) Alnwick, Lappin, McVeigh.
Wigan Athletic - First half: Pollitt; Melchiot, Bramble, Scharner, Figueroa; Cattermole, Thomas; N'Zogbia, Watson, Koumas; Rodagella. Second half: Pollitt; Edman, Bramble, Scharner, Boyce; De Ridder, Brown, Cho, Gomez, Bouaouzan; Scotland. Subs (not used) Nicholls, Kupisz.
Referee - Kevin Wright (Cambridgeshire).
Attendance - 8,927.
Goals - City: Martin (37, 57 min), Whaley (76 min). Wigan: N'Zogbia (9 min), Cho (48 min).