A game high on effort but low on quality was settled by the one sliver of quality in a largely moribund game. The fact that this quality came from Kone was testimony to his never say die attitude and his willingness to strive for victory when a draw seemed to be the likeliest result.
Wigan kept the same side which had won the last two games and the confidence which comes with a settled side nearly bore dfruit within the first few minutes when Kone almost got on the end of a sublime cross from Beausejour which fizzed unchallenged across the penalty area.
If the home fans thought that this would be the catalyst for a dominant Wigan performance they were mistaken, as a combative Norwich midfield led by Johnson chased and harried the Wigan midfield forcing mistakes from the home side and looking to use the power of Kamara on the counter attack.
Wigan held firm however with Alcaraz back to his imperious best in a back three, ably abetted by Scharner and Figueroa.
Chances in the first half were few and far between as the game descended into a midfield battle with McCarthy leading the Wigan charge with admirable support from Maloney.
Wigan’s best effort came when Kone broke down the right but the big Ivorian chose to shoot narrowly wide with Maloney better placed. For Norwich, Johnson headed wide and Robles was forced to save well from a powerful header from Kamara although the flag had been raised by the assistant for offside.
The first fifteen minutes of the second half carried on in much the same vein as the first, with lots of effort from both sides but with the defences on top it seemed that Wigan were feted to have their first goalless draw in over a year in the Premier League. Martinez seemed to realise that the three points was vital and opted to make a substitution withdrawing the industrious McManaman and replacing him with the more combative McArthur.
Wigan immediately began to play with more purpose with the two Mc’s, ‘Arthur and ‘Carthy driving Wigan forwards and closing down any counter attacks, using Maloney and Gomez as supporting attackers to the effervescent Kone.
The game still seemed to be heading for stalemate when Mr Webb allowed an advantage following a foul on Maloney, the ball came loose to Gomez who fed the ball out wide to Kone. From outside the area in a wide position Kone fired an unstoppable shot beating Camp at his near post and Wigan had the lead.
As with Wigan so often this was the cause for near panic as they strove to retain their lead and it took a wonderful tackle from Alcaraz to deny Snodgrass in full flight.
The final whistle brought a massive cheer of relief from the Wigan faithful who had seen their team win their second consecutive Premier League game on the bounce and once again were beginning to believe that Martinez could pull off another Houdini like escape to secure another Premier League season for the perennial underdogs.
Player line up and ratings
Robles…..6, the quietest afternoon he will probably ever have.
Figueora…..7, tired in the second half but another steady performance.
Scharner….7, Another consistent performance from the charismatic Austrian.
Alcaraz….9, Man of the Match, confident, assured and brilliant.
Boyce….7, Another good defensive performance.
Beausejour….6, His willingness to go forwards not always aided by his final ball.
Gomez….6, A few nice touches.
McCarthy….8, Controlled midfield
McManaman….6. Seemed subdues which after the media attention isn’t surprising.(withdrawn)
Maloney…..7, Consistently troubled the Norwich defence.
Kone….8.5, Never stopped trying and a wonderful finish for the winning goal ( withdrawn)
McArthur for McManaman….7, added steel and drive to the midfield.
Di Santo for Kone….N/A
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