Arouna Koné’s 80th minute strike was enough to give Wigan only their fourth home win of the season and cause more away-day heartbreak for the Yellow Army.
The win lifts the Latics out of the bottom three and leaves City looking over their shoulder as the chasing pack threatens to close the gap. While defeats for Sunderland, Newcastle and Reading leave the Canaries with a little breathing space the disappointing nature of the defeat leaves the finishing line looking a considerable way off.
One win in fourteen is not the form Chris Hughton would wish for as City stumble head-long into the business end of the season.
Hughton made just the one enforced change from the Sunderland game – Lee Camp taking his place in goal in place of the suspended Mark Bunn – with Roberto Martinez naming an unchanged Wigan side; their last outing being a last gasp home win over Newcastle.
In a fairly uneventful first half it was City – clad in black for the day – who enjoyed most of the possession, albeit with little to show for it by way of clear cut chances.
Robert Snodgrass, Kei Kamara and Wes Hoolahan all created problems for the home defence – particularly on the break – with City retaining a decent shape throughout, but when the half-chances arrived the shooting was disappointingly wayward.
For their part the home side caused a well marshalled City defence few problems with Sebastien Bassong and Michael Turner generally handling the dangerous Koné comfortably. On the one first-half occasion that the Ivorian found space in the City box he side-footed inches wide of Camp’s right-hand post.
At the other end Kamara continued the good form he showed at Sunderland as a lone striker and was a constant handful to Paul Scharner and Antolín Alcaraz, the former relying on a last ditch tackle to deny him a clear run on goal.
City finished the first half strongly but the story was a familiar one; decent possession but very few efforts on goal.
Wigan enjoyed more of the ball in the second half and in general looked the more likely side to score. The warning signs were there for City early on and they were thankful to some wastefulness from Shaun Maloney when he fired wildly over after Hoolahan was caught two on one from a short Wigan corner.
City’s best spell of the second period came just short of the hour mark and saw Bradley Johnson and Kamara both go close within the space of a couple of minutes. Firstly Johnson worked an opening on his left foot but whistled his shot wide of Joel Robles’ goal, shortly followed by Kamara angling a stooping header from Garrido’s cross wide of the post.
As the game opened up it was the home side who edged it in terms of chances created and Norwich were thankful to Jonny Howson’s goal-line clearance when Alcaraz met a Maloney corner with a towering header.
At the other end Garrido’s heavy touch denied him a great chance when some slick City football had released him in acres of space down the left flank.
City were given a warning of things to come on 78 minutes when some intricate inter-play down the Wigan left afforded Jean Beausejour the time and space to pick out Jordi Gomez, but he was slow to get his shot away and gave the reliable Turner time throw his body in the way and block the goal-bound effort.
The game’s pivotal moment came on 81 minutes. A game of centre-circle pin ball ended with Howson and Hoolahan leaving the ball for each other and despite referee Howard Webb spotting a City infringement he played advantage, giving the dangerous Gomez time and space to pick out a pass. This he did to perfection and his perfectly weighted through-ball released Koné in the inside right channel and, a good first touch later, the Ivorian slammed a crisp right-footed drive past Camp’s left hand and into the City net.
While the City keeper will be disappointed to have been beaten on his near-post, the shot was struck with sufficient venom to fizz through his grasp.
City huffed and puffed – Holt coming on for Kamara just prior to the goal – but they were unable to make any headway against a Wigan side who, until today, had failed to keep a clean sheet at the DW all season.
Disappointment all round for City, with Holt’s yellow card for comments to referee Webb’s assistant symptomatic of the frustration felt by all in black, green and yellow.
While there is yet time, the forty point mark still looks a long way off.
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