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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
17:12 15th December 2012
By  Nick Taylor

REPORT: NORWICH 2 LATICS 1

The mammoth trip to the South East provided no rewards for Wigan Athletic as they conceded in each half to goals by Anthony Pilkington and Wes Hoolahan but, the pick of the goals came in the form of Latics' equaliser by Shaun Maloney just after half time.

Roberto Martinez called upon the return of Maynor Figueroa to the starting 11 after he served his one match ban and replaced David Jones.

The game also saw Mauro Boselli make his first Premier League start since December 2010 as he came in for Franco Di Santo.

It was a difficult opening 45 minutes for Latics as they struggled to get the ball on the ground and retain possession.

Norwich's in-your-face attitude had them on the ropes as the hosts constantly piled men forward.

Latics looked to soak up the early pressure and frustrate the home side by remaining solid at the back but, when Emmerson Boyce couldn't clear his lines and got the ball caught under his feet, tricky midfielder Hoolahan stole possession to play in Pilkington down the left side of the box and the former Huddersfield Town man did the honours by smashing the ball into the top left hand corner.

With Norwich firmly on top for the opening quarter of an hour, the game then became scrappy in midfield as both number 4s James McCarthy and Bradley Johnson clashed, resulting in the Norwich man receiving the first caution of the game as he was judged to have stood on McCarthy's ankle.

Latics had the occasional chance but, such was the momentum of the home side's play that it was Ali Al Habsi who was turning into the hero.

The Omani international kept Latics in the game on a number of occasions, with the pick of his first half saves preventing Robert Snodgrass from three yards out.

Norwich's winger lurked at the back post to connect with Javier Garrido's deep cross but to his dismay, the agility of Al Habsi clawed away a close range volley.

At half time Latics started to bite back and with the introduction of David Jones and Shaun Maloney it was game on.

It took just six minutes for Latics to get level when a fantastic move started on the left by Jean Beausejour ended in a fearsome right footed strike by the magician Maloney.

Beausejour's ball inside was scooped over the defence by James McArthur to Arouna Kone and the Ivorian held the ball up down the left side of the box before checking back to tee up Maloney.

From the edge he smashed the ball into the top corner and Mark Bunn stood no chance.

Just as Latics looked to be gaining momentum of their own, Norwich started to get their heads back in check.

On 64 minutes Norwich's constant pressure paid off as they caught Latics' defence unorganised.

It was Pilkington creating the problems again as he twisted and turned down the left of the penalty box before delicately chipping his cross into the area.

The case of goal scorer turned provider and provider turned goal scorer sprang into action as Hoolahan jumped unmarked and in space between Adrian Lopez and Maynor Figueroa to nod the ball in for 2-1.

Arouna Kone provided the last chance of the game when a cute flick by Di Santo put him through on goal but, a crucial block by Sebastien Bassong stopped the ball from ripping into the back of the net as the ball looked destined for goal.

Latics will have Al Habsi to thank though for the score line only being 2-1 as he made two world class saves earlier in the second half, with the first from a long range Johnson drive.

The second save had jaws hitting the floor in amazement when the Omani once again showed agility to deny Pilkington his second of the game as he leaped across his line to beat away the midfielder's back post header.

It was a difficult trip for Latics as they failed to find their usually fantastic rhythm and Norwich ran out winners, albeit by a whisker considering the late Kone effort.