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Norwich City 1 Wigan Athletic 0

Latics paid the penalty with late defeat at Norwich
Latics paid the penalty with late defeat at Norwich

Wigan Athletic’s miserable form on the road continued as a penalty from Mario Vrancic with four minutes remaining was enough to give Norwich City the spoils in a scrappy Championship encounter.

The Canaries had been denied what appeared to be a stonewall penalty midway through the first half when Teemu Pukki was clipped from behind as he shaped to shoot just inside the box.

Referee Gavin Ward, however, waved play on, much to the dismay of the home players, management and supporters.

Try as they did, Latics were unable to rub salt into the wounds, failing to muster even a single effort on goal in the 90 minutes.

And perhaps justice was done right at the death when Pukki was again sent tumbling in the box, this time by substitute Callum Connolly.

Although the contact appeared to be minimal, this time the official straight pointed to the spot.

And City substitute Vrancic sent Christian Walton - who’d made a couple of fine saves to keep the home side out - the wrong way to secure all three points.

Latics have now lost four and won only one of their five matches on the road, and slip out of the play-off picture at the expense of Norwich.

And on the balance of play they can have few complaints having not played anywhere near their capabilities.

The tone was set in the opening exchanges when Cedric Kipre found himself completely free from Lee Evans’ corner.

However, the big centre-back completely misjudged the flight and could only steer the ball well wide with little power behind it.

At the other end, the lively Marco Stiepermann was given far too much time and space, and his stinging shot forced a brilliant save from Walton.

Latics had an even bigger escape on 23 minutes when Dunkley’s woefully underhit backpass was seized on by Pukki, who was through on goal.

To his credit, Dunkley did his best to get back to atone for his error, but looked to take out his opponent as the striker entered the area and tried to get a shot away.

To the surprise of almost everyone inside the ground, the official looked to his assistant on the far side before waving play on, with the Latics man perhaps fortunate to remain on the field.

And Latics almost rubbed salt into the Norwich wounds in a flash as Nick Powell’s free-kick deflected off the wall into the path of Josh Windass, whose half-volley hit a defender and team-mate Joe Garner before rolling to the home goalkeeper.

Norwich regrouped and Dunkley made amends for his earlier error by throwing himself in the way of a goalbound strike from Emiliano Buendia, with Stiepermann testing Walton again shortly after.

Norwich continued to edge it after the restart, although they were almost caught on the break when Michael Jacobs led a four-on-three break, but the winger couldn’t find a supporting blue shirt - with Garner, Windass and Powell all left shaking their heads.

A nice move involving Sam Morsy and Garner saw the ball roll into the path of Windass who, not for the first time, couldn’t hit the target from a decent position.

That was Garner’s last involvement before making way for Darron Gibson, who slotted into the midfield allowing Powell to move further up the field.

Latics almost edged in front at the three-quarter mark as a quite magnificent free-kick delivery from James somehow missed all the forwards trying to get a touch, and all the defenders trying not to get a touch in case it diverted into their own net.

Connolly replaced Evans with 14 minutes remaining, but the on-loan Everton man’s first real involvement was to be adjudged to have impeded Pukki in the box, which allowed Vrancic to beat Walton for the only goal.