REPORT: WIGAN ATHLETIC 0-1 NORWICH CITYNEXT UP AT CARROW ROAD
Huddersfield - Saturday December 13, 3pm
JONNY Howson's early strike earned Norwich City a morale-boosting 1-0 win at Wigan Athletic.
The midfielder scored on five minutes to settle a scrappy game at the DW Stadium.
It was an industrious display from the Canaries to keep a clean sheet and pick up their first victory in four matches.
Neil Adams made three changes to his team before kick-off, with Carlos Cuellar replacing Michael Turner in defence. Gary O'Neil and Bradley Johnson also came in for Kyle Lafferty and Nathan Redmond.
Lewis Grabban missed out on a place in the squad after injuring his groin in training, but Conor McGrandles was named among the substitutes at a league game for the first time.
Ex-Canary Leon Barnett started for hosts Wigan in Malky Mackay's third match in charge since taking over last month.
The first half was scrappy on the whole but City were the better team and remained solid after Howson had fired them into an early lead.
After just five minutes, Howson was picked out by Gary Hooper after some smart hold-up play, and the former Leeds man drilled the ball home with confidence.
It was the midfielder's third goal in four matches and provided the perfect platform for a promising first half from Neil Adams' men.
Cameron Jerome nearly doubled their advantage on seven minutes but rolled his shot straight at Scott Carson, and Wigan were struggling to impress their home supporters.
That was in part down to City's structure with a narrow midfield, and it took until the 33rd minute for Ruddy to be tested when Marc Antoine-Fortune spun and shot in the box.
Callum McManaman then whipped a long-range effort wide but the game lacked fluidity, and aside from Chris McCann's ambitious strike in stoppage time, the rest of the half passed without noteworthy incident.
HALF-TIME: Wigan Athletic 0-1 Norwich City
Ruddy showed good hands to make the save from James Perch's header on 52 minutes as Wigan started the second period energised.
Still there were few chances, however, and Adams introduced Murphy for Hooper with just under half an hour to play.
The game trundled along with Wigan looking the more likely but still failing to find that opening as City held strong at the back.
Fortune broke into the left side of the area on 78 minutes and delivered a low cross towards James McClean, but Ruddy bravely blocked at the winger's feet and then did the same from McManaman.
Up the other end, Murphy was fouled 20 yards out but Lafferty slipped just as he was set to strike the free-kick before the substitute was involved again.
This time he tussled with Maynor Figueroa, getting a soft shot away before falling under the Honduran's challenge in the box, but no penalty was given.
Perch had another header for the Latics, this time from the edge of the box off Ben Watson's free-kick, but it sailed harmlessly wide and it looked as though City were heading for just their second win in 11 matches.
They held on in stoppage time and the 1,000 strong Yellow Army celebrated a dogged away victory.
FULL-TIME: Wigan Athletic 0-1 Norwich City
GOALS: Canaries: Jonny Howson (5)
WIGAN ATHLETIC: Carson; Perch, Barnett, Figueroa, Taylor; Watson (c), McCann (Delort 89); McManaman, Maloney (Cowie 48), McClean; Fortune (Espinoza 83). Subs not used: Al Habsi (GK), Huws, Boyce, Forshaw.
NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin (c), Cuellar, Olsson; Howson, O'Neil, Tettey, Johnson; Hooper (Murphy 64), Jerome (Lafferty 70). Subs not used: Rudd (GK), Turner, Hooiveld, Redmond, McGrandles.
REFEREE: Oliver Langford