Norwich City 2 Wigan Athletic 1

Gary Caldwell
Gary Caldwell

A rousing second-half comeback from Wigan Athletic - and a brilliant goal for Jordi Gomez - wasn’t enough to prevent a fourth defeat on the bounce for Gary Caldwell’s men.

The visitors had given themselves a mountain to climb, by falling two goals behind inside 10 minutes.

Jacob Murphy opened the scoring with only two minutes gone, taking advantage of a catastrophic blunder from Latics goalkeeper Adam Bogdan to slot home from close range.

And Murphy was in the right place at the right time to double the advantage eight minutes later, after Bogdan had produced a superb save to deny Wes Hoolahan.

Norwich could and perhaps should have killed off the game before the interval, such was their superiority all over the park.

But a mixture of dogged defending and feeble finishing kept the visitors interested.

Sparked by the introduction of Yanic Wildschut and Nathan Byrne, Latics were much better in the second period, and Jordi Gomez’s 20-yard effort with 20 minutes to go gave them renewed hope.

Gomez then sent a free-kick fizzing inches past the post, and Will Grigg was only denied a stoppage-time leveller by a superb save from his Northern Ireland international colleague Michael McGovern.

The visitors collectively sunk to their knees at the end of the five added minutes, but are now second bottom in the Championship, with only Blackburn - against whom they recorded their solitary victory - below them.

Attempting to bounce back after three defeats in a row, Latics could not have got off to a worse start.

And the way they shot themselves in the foot with only two minutes gone will haunt Gary Caldwell.

There was no danger as Jake Buxton played a routine backpass to Bogdan, on the edge of the six-yard box.

But the goalkeeper wanted an eternity to play the ball out, and appeared not to notice Murphy sneaking up from the side until it was too late.

The City striker touched the ball away from the despairing gloveman, before slotting into an empty net.

And before Latics could get back into their strike, it was 2-0.

This time Bogdan made a fabulous save to deny Hoolahan, who’d been sent free after a clever one-two with Cameron Jerome.

But just when the goalkeeper need a little bit of luck, he didn’t get it as the ball looped goalwards from his right hand and was nodded home from a yard by Murphy.

Wigan’s attempts at a response were foiled when no-one read a sublime cross from the left from Michael Jacobs.

But it was a rare moment of excitement for the away fans to cling on to.

Indeed, their misery was summed up when a section of them wildly cheered their first corner of the night, which was routinely cleared by the City defence.

Norwich were almost in again midway through the first half when Jerome’s shot was brilliantly blocked at full stretch by Bogdan.

Latics had their first real effort on goal on the half-hour mark, when Alex Gilbey’s shot from distance was parried away by McGovern.

The visitors then had half a shout for a penalty when Grigg appeared to be fouled by a City defender, only for the referee to inexplicably award a free-kick to the home side.

It was an encouraging spell for Latics, with Gomez almost getting himself on the end of a deflected cross from Jacobs, only for the ball to be bundled behind by a yellow shirt.

Norwich ended the half on top, though, and Buxton produced another good block to deny Jerome, who moments later was inches away from applying a finishing touch to Murphy’s teasing cross.

The home side made a couple of changes at the interval, with Caldwell electing to send out the same Wigan XI.

But Norwich picked up where they’d left off and Latics needed Bogdan to make a good save to deny Hoolahan, with Stephen Warnock hacking away to safety.

Bogdan wasn’t getting near the next opportunity for City, though, and he was relieved to see Russell Martin’s shot fly past the far post.

Caldwell made his move, sending on Wildschut and Byrne - making his debut - for Shaun MacDonald and Reece Burke.

And Wildschut was quickly into the game, berating his man with a lovely dummy and unfortunate not to see his cross reach an unmarked Grigg.

The Dutchman then forced a magnificent save from McGovern at full stretch as the game entered the final quarter.

But back came Norwich and Jerome steered Martin Olsson’s excellent cross inches over the top with Bogdan again exposed.

There was an overwhelming feel that a goal was imminent - at either end of the field.

And thankfully for Latics, they managed to break through with 20 minutes to go.

Gomez was given too much time and space on the edge of the area, and he smashed it home with his left foot to halve the arrears.

And the Spaniard was inches away from an equaliser within a minute, when he sent a 20-yard free-kick around the wall and into the side-netting with the goalkeeper beaten.

It was all Latics heading into the last 10 minutes, and Gilbey - operating at right-back, behind Byrne - sent a shot from 25 yards only just past the post.

There was almost a goal at either end in the space of 30 seconds as full-time approached, Grigg having a shot blocked before City broke and substitute Alex Pritchard sent a low shot it inches wide.

Five minutes of added time further encouraged the visitors, and Grigg thought he’d found an equaliser right at the death only for McGovern to claw away his goalbound header.