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19:20 11th March 2012


CITY were held to a draw by a battling Wigan Athletic in a Barclays Premier League clash at Carrow Road which could have gone either way.

Wes Hoolahan gave the Canaries an early lead with a deft lob over Wigan 'keeper Al Habsi ten minutes into his 150th game for the Club - but Wigan always looked threatening and equalised through Victor Moses halfway through the second half.

The Canaries rallied and substitute Steve Morison was twice denied a winner in the closing minutes as he had one header cleared off the line and another kept out courtesy of a wonder-save from Al Habsi.

On the result, manager Paul Lambert said: "I always think that if you can't win it then make sure you don't lose it. Today we could've won it but also could've lost it, but I'm delighted with what has happened this season and that's another point nearer safety for us.

"The game could've gone either way. Wigan are a good side and had less pressure on them because they were away from home, they've been in the Premier League for six or seven years and we're just new to it.

"Every time a chance goes against us it can be nerve wracking, but all credit to the team we stuck at it. At the end of the game I think perhaps a draw was a fair result."

Earlier in bright sunshine there was a quiet start to the game with City enjoying long spells of possession without finding a way through a compact Wigan defence.

But then in the Canaries' first telling attack they took the lead in the tenth minute with a great goal, Simeon Jackson chipping into the danger area from the right and Hoolahan meeting it with a delicious first-time lob over the advancing Al Habsi in the Wigan goal.

After 17 minutes Wigan created their first meaningful chance when Beausejour forced Ruddy to make a save with a low shot - and in City's next attack Crofts hit a first-time effort narrowly over the bar from 20 yards.

Ten minutes later there was a dangerous moment for Norwich as Rodallega turned inside the area and shot goalwards, but Ruddy was able to make the block to preserve City's lead.

Just after the half-hour the home fans were calling for handball after Holt's fierce drive appeared to strike the arm of Wigan skipper Gary Caldwell in the box, but referee Kevin Friend was unmoved by the appeals.

On 37 minutes there was a slice of luck for the Canaries as Boyce's cross from the right deflected off Drury and landed on the crossbar before being bundled behind for a corner.

Just before the break there was another let-off as Gomez struck a fierce shot which Ruddy could only parry in front of him, but Rodallega fired the loose ball over the bar from ten yards.

Half-time: Norwich City 1, Wigan Athletic 0

Within a minute of the restart City went close to adding a second as Drury's cross from the left was met by Holt with a header which flew just wide.

Wigan hit back and perhaps should have levelled the match a minute later as some neat interplay saw McCarthy get free in City's box, but his low drive was saved well by Ruddy with his body and he gathered the ball swiftly.

There was a change by either side as the game approached the hour-mark, first Maloney replacing Gomez for the visitors and then Holt making way for fellow striker Morison for Norwich.

In the 64th minute a swift City counter-attack saw Jackson inches away from turning in Morison's low ball acroos the area, only to be denied by some urgent defending from Wigan.

At the other end Ruddy was alert to parry a deflected effort from Latics sub Maloney behind for a corner.

But there was nothing he could do to stop Wigan's equaliser in the 67th minute as incisive passing from the visitors carved open the City defence and allowed Victor Moses.

City responded with a double substitution as Pilkington and Eliott Bennett replaced Surman and Crofts to try and provide the spark which the Canaries had been lacking.

The Canaries began to display a bit more urgency as as we approached the last ten minutes of normal time first McCarthy and then Alcaraz were booked for cynical fouls on Bennett and Jackson respectively.

City twice went close to scoring with headers, first Morison meeting a corner with a firm header which was headed off the line then Ward nodding Bennett's cross inches wide.

At the other end Wigan substitute Diame somehow blazed over from 10 yards out with the goal at his mercy as the Latics searched after a winner of their own.

In the 89th minute a world class save from Al Habsi saw the Wigan 'keeper dive to his right to palm away a Morison header that looked goalbound.

Final score:
Norwich City 1, Wigan Athletic 1

Norwich City:
Ruddy, Drury, Whitbread, Crofts (E.Bennett 69), Holt (c) (Morison 60), Jackson, Surman (Pilkington 69), Hoolahan, Fox, Ward, Naughton. Subs not used: Steer, Martin, Johnson, Wilbraham.
Wigan Athletic:
Al Habsi, Alcaraz, McCarthy (Diame 85), Caldwell (c), Moses, Gomez (Maloney 55), McArthur, Boyce, Rodallega, Beausejour, Figueroa. Subs not used: Kirkland, Watson, Di Santo, McManaman, Stam.

Kevin Friend


    Data provided by Press Association


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