Unbeaten home run over for LaticsWigan were unable to extend their unbeaten run at home after falling 1-0 to Newcastle, courtesy of a strike from Shola Ameobi.
Home side manager Roberto Martinez was forced into making one change from the side that drew with Arsenal as Charles N'Zogbia started the first game of his three game suspension so Jordi Gomez was recalled to the starting line-up. New signing Adrian Lopez started on the bench after completing his move to the DW stadium recently.
Newcastle made five changes to the side that lost against Tottenham, goalkeeper Steve Harper was preferred to youngster Tim Krul, Jose Enrique returned at left back in place of James Perch, captain Kevin Nolan replaced Alan Smith, Peter Lovenkrands provided the width for the Magpies in place of Wayne Routledge and Shola Ameobi started upfront in place of the injured Andy Carroll.
The first chance of the match came in just the second minute and it was a fantastic chance for Ameobi from four yards. Nolan and Taylor combined to release Danny Simpson down the right wing and he provided a perfect cross onto the head of Ameobi but he couldn’t keep his header down and Al Habsi watched it sail over his crossbar.
The lively start continued as the home side attacked with purpose three minutes later, a low free kick from Ben Watson was blocked by the Newcastle defence but the ball rolled into the path of Tim Cleverley who fired a curling shot towards the top corner but Harper made an excellent save to deny the on-loan Manchester United midfielder. From the resulting corner Paraguayan centre half Antolin Alcaraz rose above his marker but headed straight at Harper.
After quarter of an hour Wigan had another good chance to open the scoring and it was again Cleverley who had the opportunity. Mohamed Diame raced down the Wigan left wing before flicking a cross into the centre of the penalty area but Cleverley’s volley was over the crossbar.
The visitors had weathered the storm and two minutes later they came close to scoring themselves, Ameobi beat Steve Gohouri and Alcaraz on the right before delivering a low cross towards Lovenkrands. However the Danish striker couldn’t get any power into his volley and the ball rolled into the arms of Al Habsi.
The game did get its first goal in the 19th minute and it was the away supporters who were celebrating after Ameobi put the finishing touch to a scrappy build-up. Wigan defender Gohouri miscontrolled a pass from Watson on the edge of his penalty area which allowed Joey Barton to rob him and fire a low shot towards the far corner. Al-Habsi was only able to parry the shot which allowed Lovenkrands to poke a shot towards goal, that effort struck the post but rebounded to Ameobi who made no mistake from close range to score his fourth goal of the season.
Having taken the lead Newcastle began to settle into their passing game as Wigan attempted to close their opponents down, however just after the half hour the hosts nearly gifted another goal to the Magpies. Cleverley lost the ball inside his own half and Simpson was able to find Barton, whose low cross was cleared only as far as Nolan who played it back into Barton. The midfielder’s second attempt at a cross was much better and found Lovenkrands, but as the striker prepared to fire a shot goalwards Watson made a crucial interception and put the ball out for a corner.
Wigan’s attacks were few and far between and tended to be made on the counter attack, Ronnie Stam played a neat ball into Cleverley who came in from the left wing and sent a curling shot towards goal, but a deflection took it wide of the far post. From the resulting corner Gary Caldwell rose above his marker but his header crashed against the bar and from the rebound Rodallega fired over the bar.
Ameobi was causing all kinds of trouble for the Wigan defence and from a neat flick on by him another chance fell to Lovenkrands, however once the Dane had brought the ball under control Alcaraz was able to block the shot and concede a corner. From that corner Joey Barton floated a cross to the edge of the area where Fabrizio Coloccini was arriving but his powerful header struck the top of the crossbar.
The visitors were finishing the half the stronger and with two minutes remaining should have doubled their lead through Gutierrez. The Argentine was released by Enrique with a wonderful pass down the left side, but the winger’s shot from the edge of the area was blocked by the onrushing Al Habsi.
The second half struggled to match the pace of the first half and neither side looked confident in possession. Wigan manager Roberto Martinez made two substitutions inside the first 15 minutes of the half as James McArthur and Mauro Boselli replaced Hendry Thomas and Jordi Gomez.
The first real opportunity of the half came in the 68th minute following a silly foul by Caldwell on Nolan to the left of the Wigan penalty area. Joey Barton then delivered an excellent free kick but Taylor thumped a header against the crossbar.
Wigan were struggling to get into the game and the introduction of the attacking players was not making a huge difference for Martinez’s men, something which began to frustrate the home crowd. Good runs from midfield were halted by a strong Newcastle defence and a lack of creativity at the back meant more pressure on the midfield four.
Newcastle looked the more likely to score, especially after the introduction of Wayne Routledge for Lovenkrands, the winger looked dangerous down the Newcastle left and caused problems for Alcaraz and Stam but he was unable to find a killer pass to enable his side to double their lead.
With the game coming to a close, substitute Leon Best, who had replaced Ameobi, raced away from the Wigan defenders but when he was one on one with Al Habsi he fired wide.
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