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Premier League

  • 22 October 2011
  • • 15:00
  • • St. James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Referee: N. Swarbrick
  • • Attendance: 48321

Newcastle United 1-0 Wigan Athletic: Yohan Cabaye strikes late as top-four hosts are made to work hard for victory

Newcastle United 1-0 Wigan Athletic: Yohan Cabaye strikes late as top-four hosts are made to work hard for victory

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French midfielder curls home 81st minute winner after an unconvincing display by Alan Pardew's side that nevertheless maintains their place in the Premier League top four

Yohan Cabaye’s late winner against Wigan Athletic handed Newcastle United a barely deserved win that keeps them in the Premier League top four.

Cabaye struck in the closing stages after the visitors had seen a host of goalscoring opportunities pass them by - the French playmaker finding the top corner with deadly precision from 25 yards out.

The result sends the Latics to the bottom of the table on goal difference, whilst Newcastle maintain their positive start to the season on 19 points.

Alan Pardew made no changes to the side that drew 2-2 against Tottenham Hotspur, electing to stick with Demba Ba and Leon Best in attack despite Shola Ameobi’s superb late equaliser in the Spurs clash.

Roberto Martinez was able to welcome Maynor Figueroa back into the fray at left-back, while Albert Crusat and Hugo Rodallega replaced James McCarthy and Franco Di Santo respectively.

It was the visitors who started on the front foot and after Mohammed Diame had seen his penalty appeal turned down, they created the first real opportunity of the match. Steven Taylor could only clear Emmerson Boyce’s cross as far as Victor Moses, whose left-footed volley was superbly turned over the bar by Tim Krul.

That close shave seemed to spark Newcastle into action, with Gabriel Obertan breaking down the right wing only to see his dangerous low ball roll across an empty penalty area.

Wigan however were quick to assert their numerical advantage in midfield, with David Jones finding space to slide a pass through to Rodallega but the Colombian forward fired wide.

Newcastle were enjoying plenty of possession but were unable to take advantage of it. Instead the pace of the Wigan attack forced centre-back duo Fabricio Coloccini and Taylor to defend deep and the subsequent pressing of the Latics’ midfield trio left Ba and Best isolated in the final third.

The home side finally threatened Ali Al-Habsi’s goal just after the half hour mark. Ryan Taylor played Jonas Gutierrez in on the overlap and the Argentine’s cross was met by the head of Best, but Al-Habsi reacted well to make the save.

       Better late | Cabaye helped continue Newcastle's unbeaten run with late goal

Taylor headed just wide from the resulting corner before Diame stung the palms of Krul with a trademark pile-driver from distance but real goalscoring chances remained few and far between.

A common and frustrating theme developing was the bright but inevitably wasteful play of both sides’ wingers. Moses continued to look threatening, at one point skipping through midfield after a quick one-two with Jones, only to shoot harmlessly wide from 25 yards.

Pardew sacrificed Best at the break in order to introduce Hatem Ben Arfa with the intention of bridging the gap between the Magpies’ midfield and attack.

The change seemed to work, as Newcastle created two chances within five minutes of the restart. First Gutierrez’s cross was volleyed over by Obertan before Ba’s flicked header was stopped down low by Al-Habsi.

Wigan continued to counter attack with menace but unfortunately they were unable to provide any quality in the final third. Boyce’s horrendous cross into the stands preceded an aimless and wasteful final ball by Crusat when four blue shirts had broken forward in support.

Boyce almost made up for his poor delivery when he broke down the right and crossed low for Rodallega, but Taylor’s excellent challenge prevented the striker from diverting the ball past Krul. The forward found more space when he latched on to Figueroa’s accurate long pass but he could only volley into the side netting.

With his side still struggling to maintain any sort of sustained pressure, Pardew threw Ameobi and Sylvain Marveaux into the fray and it was the latter who created the decisive goal. Ryan Taylor’s cross from the left was chested down at the back post by the Frenchman and rolled back to Cabaye, who curled wonderfully past Al-Habsi into the top corner.

There was an air of inevitability about the goal, which came after a particularly good Wigan spell, as the visitors were once again punished for simply not taking the chances presented to them – something which continued after the goal when two golden opportunities were spurned.

Moses wriggled his way through several Newcastle bodies only to see his ball across the six yard box go untouched, before Diame powerfully headed Boyce’s cross from the right just wide of the post.

Unconvincing it certainly was – but Newcastle once again found a way to victory as their dream start to the Premier League season continues.