A balanced game which could have been won by both teams ends even after the home side took an early lead with visitors showing enough attacking intent to fight back in second halfA goal in each half from Wes Hoolahan and Victor Moses were enough to ensure that Norwich City and Wigan Athletic finished 1-1 in the Premier League at Carrow Road on Sunday after an entertaining game which was evenly balanced throughout.
Both sides could have scored more, but momentary lapses of techinque prevented a higher scoreline from developing.
The point aids Wigan immensely in its quest for Premier League survival as the gap to safety is back to two points. Norwich will be unhappy that it couldn't expand its lead and take the victory, but survival is still looking very likely for Paul Lambert's men.
Norwich manager Lambert made changes to his first XI by dropping Anthony Pilkington to the bench. Roberto Martinez also mixed things up by bringing Hugo Rodellaga back into the starting line up following the recent defeat at Swansea City.
With Wigan rooted to the foot of the table the margin for error is very small and any mistake can be costly. This was demonstrated as a poor kick from Ali Al-Habsi sailed out of play where it was quickly thrown back in as Norwich sensed an opening.
A delicate cross from the left from Simeon Jackson continued the move and a storming run from Hoolahan beat the Wigan defense as he smashed the ball home to give Norwich the early lead.
Wigan had a decent chance to get back level after 16 minutes when a counter attack allowed Rodellaga to split the Norwich defenders and this space was exploited as he squared the ball for the marauding Jean Beausejour but his timid sidefoot effort was never troubling John Ruddy in the Canaries net.
Rodellaga was the busiest of the Wigan attackers and after a tricky run from Victor Moses on the right he passed inside for Rodellaga to shoot despite the close attention of the Norwich defense. Ruddy got down well and kept the lead intact for Norwich.
The home side was content with its lead but it wasn't so pleased with referee Kevin Friend when shortly before the half hour a powerful Grant Holt shot was blocked by the left arm of Wigan captain Gary Caldwell. Replays showed that there was little Caldwell could do and the benefit of the doubt was given to the defender.
Moments later Wigan could have scored a freak goal when a cross from Emerson Boyce was clipped on its path by Adam Drury which took Ruddy by surprise in the Norwich net as it slammed onto the crossbar. The ball was put out for a corner whilst Carrow Road breathed a sigh of relief.
Fortune continued to smile on Norwich as Ruddy spilled a shot from Gomez which was collected by Rodellaga but as he was running away from goal, the angle he had to work with was very slim and as a result his shot was high over the goal.
Neither manager made any personnel changes during the break as both would have been happy enough with the effort and creativity on display. Individual moments of sloppy play proved to be the theme for both teams as chances had gone to waste.
As the hour approached the substitutions began. Jordi Gomez, who had been one of the better players for Wigan, was removed for Shaun Maloney for the visitors and a visibly incredulous Grant Holt making way for Steve Morison. It was a clear indication that both managers still felt there was plenty of soccer to be played and fresh legs were the order of the day.
Morison made a quick impact when a long ball was run down by the forward who then delivered a teasing cross which Simeon Jackson couldn’t cleanly hit. After a mini-scramble Al-Habsi took control of the ball as Norwich was making the most of the attacking nature of Wigan.
Martinez was willing to throw men forward to find that precious equalizing goal. That aggressiveness paid off after 68 minutes when a probing through ball from Maloney left Zak Whitbread and Adam Drury chasing Moses whose pace was too much for the Norwich back line. A little redirection of the ball took it past Ruddy and the finish from there was a simple one.
Wigan had tested Ruddy on a number of occasions and finally, it was rewarded.
As the game continued Wigan thought that it had taken all three points when more good work from Maloney opened up a cross for fellow sub Mohamed Diame but his miss from only a few yards away was staggering.
As time wound down there were more chances going to waste but the result was a fair reflection on the contest and both managers should be encouraged by the attacking flow of their respective teams.