Newcastle 1 Wigan Athletic 0

Share this article

LATICS crashed to a seventh defeat on the spin in the north east – but Roberto Martinez could not have asked for any more from his men who did not deserve to go home losers.

Looking a completely different side to the one dismantled by Bolton seven days earlier, Latics dominated virtually the entire game on Tyneside, and created several clear-cut chances that on another day would surely have been taken.

As the game entered the final quarter, Martinez would have felt cheated to have only been looking at one point, such was Wigan’s hold on the game.

But, with eight minutes remaining, Yohan Cabaye smashed an unstoppable shot past Ali Al Habsi from just inside the penalty area to give the scoreline an even more unfair look.

Latics were left to rue a couple of missed chances by Hugo Rodallega, while Momo Diame should have done better with a free header in the closing stages that he planted well wide of the target.

Martinez will also point to his side being denied what looked to be a stonewall penalty in the first five minutes when Diame was clipped inside the box.

And the home side can count themselves fortunate to have kept all 11 men on the pitch with Leon Best and Danny Simpson both doing more than enough to have secured an early bath only to be spared by referee Neil Swarbrick.

Rodallega was one of three changes for Wigan in response to the demolition derby against Bolton, with Maynor Figueroa also restored to the starting line-up and Albert Crusat handed a full Premier League debut.

Despite their confidence-draining recent run of results, Latics flew out of the blocks and could have been ahead twice inside the opening five minutes.

First, Diame jinked his way through the heart of the defence and looked as though he had his standing leg swept away as he was in the act of shooting, the referee ruling otherwise.

Then, seconds later, Victor Moses advanced into the area and unleashed a volley bound for the top corner before Tim Krul stuck out a strong left hand and tipped it over the crossbar.

Latics were almost in again on 15 minutes when David Jones played in Rodallega with a lovely first-time pass.

The striker’s control was immaculate, but his shot from the edge of the area sliced off his right foot and flew into the side-netting.

Rodallega was then in the wars when he was caught late and high by Cabaye, although the Colombian was able to continue after treatment.

Swarbrick opted not to caution the Toon midfielder, and further infuriated the visitors by booking Jones for an innocuous trip on Best moments later.

Latics had completely dominated the opening quarter, and went close again on 25 minutes when Ben Watson should have done better from a nice cut-back from Moses, the shot easily blocked by the first defender.

Antolin Alcaraz then headed just over from an inswinging free-kick by Jones, and the Paraguayan was on hand at the other end to nip the ball away from Jonas Gutierrez as Newcastle launched a rare sortie into the Wigan box.

Al Habsi was called into action for the first time just after the half-hour mark, clawing away a header from Best after a good ball in from Gutierrez.

There was another moment of alarm nine minutes before the break when Al Habsi needed two attempts to gather a regulation ball in from Simpson, with Demba Ba sniffing around for scraps.

Diame, clearly buoyed by his two fine goals already this term, then tried his luck from 35 yards, which forced another stop from Krul.

Latics were bemoaning another injustice as the clock ticked on to 40 minutes, a blatant foul on Gary Caldwell going unpunished by the referee, who immediately awarded the home side a free-kick for Watson’s trip on Gutierrez.

The decision allowed former Wigan man Ryan Taylor - the scorer of four previous goals in this fixture, all for Wigan – to line up a set-piece from 25 yards.

But the ball was always curling wide and Al Habsi watched it fly behind.

There was a flashpoint on the stroke of half-time when Figueroa was absolutely cleaned out by a diabolical lunge from Best, which saw the Honduran catapulted into a handstand such was its ferocity.

With Figueroa writhing in agony, the official saw fit to award only a yellow card - with the Wigan contingent calling for a red one.

Still, Martinez would have been delighted with his side’s first-half showing, albeit tempered by the knowledge they could and should have been comfortably ahead.

Predictably, Newcastle came out all guns blazing at the start of the second half, with Hatem Ben Arfa on for Best – wisely taken out of the firing line by Alan Pardew.

Four minutes after the restart, the Toon should have taken the lead when Taylor’s cross found Ba unmarked eight yards from goal, but the header was weak and straight at Al Habsi.

The referee continued to anger the visitors with his interpretation of a number of incidents, although he did well to caution Simpson for a cynical tug on Diame despite play going on for at least three minutes until the next break in play.

Urged on by their supporters, Newcastle were throwing more and more men forward which, in turn, was leaving Latics two-on-two and three-on-three every time they launched a counter.

At the hour mark, the game was virtually end to end - and a goalless draw was looking increasingly unlikely.

Rodallega had another great chance after a long ball through by Jones, but again the finish was aimed at the near post and once more found the side-netting.

Caldwell came up with a fine block to deny Gutierrez as the game ticked into the final quarter, and Simpson - on a booking - was extremely fortunate to stay on the field when he caught Crusat in the face as the Spaniard broke through the midfield, the official awarding the free-kick but nothing else.

Wigan hearts were in their mouths 12 minutes from time when Ben Arfa ran at Caldwell, who was backtracking into his own box.

The shot was fierce but Al Habsi got two strong hands behind it and parried it to safety.

But Wigan weren’t so lucky three minutes later as the Toon edged their noses in front.

Taylor’s deep cross to the far post found substitute Sylvain Marveaux, who teed up Cabaye, and the finish from 15 yards was just too good for Al Habsi.

If Wigan’s spirit was dashed, they didn’t show it as they nearly fashioned an equaliser within two minutes.

With Conor Sammon and James McArthur on for Crusat and Watson, Moses got to the byline and produced a wonderful ball across the six-yard box.

Unfortunately, Diame hadn’t gambled on the ball across and was a couple of yards short of applying the finishing touch into an unguarded net.

Diame was then left with his head in his hands in the very last minute when he headed Emmerson Boyce’s cunning cross wide from eight yards out and no defender near him.