Huckerby keeps Norwich flying with virtuoso display

Norwich City 2 Wigan Athletic 0
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The Independent Online

Norwich City overcame another obstacle on their path to promotion to the Premiership as a Mathias Svensson goal and a superb solo effort from Darren Huckerby earned the First Division leaders another three points, this time against Wigan.

Norwich City overcame another obstacle on their path to promotion to the Premiership as a Mathias Svensson goal and a superb solo effort from Darren Huckerby earned the First Division leaders another three points, this time against Wigan.

Svensson scored early in the second half before Huckerby capped a man-of-the-match display 18 minutes from time to give Norwich a three-point lead at the top of the table, and ensure breathing space to third-place Sunderland, who had earlier beaten Sheffield United.

Wigan's hopes of securing a play-off spot have been hit by a poor run of just three wins in nine League games, leaving the chasing pack snapping at their heals. From the outset at Carrow Road, it looked another frustrating game for Paul Jewell's men.

With just two minutes on the clock, the home side came close to taking the lead through defender Malky Mackay. The centre-back, forward for a corner, struck a half-volley from the edge of the area and stung the palms of goalkeeper John Filan as he pushed it over the crossbar.

In the eighth minute, Huckerby charged down the left flank and flashed an inviting ball across the face of Filan's goal, but Leon McKenzie was unable to stretch to tap the ball home.

It was 15 minutes before the visitors showed an interest as midfielder Jimmy Bullard's two long-range efforts within four minutes of each other gave a statement of intent from Wigan.

Wigan's best chance of the first-half came on 20 minutes when the powerful striker Jason Roberts, fortunate to find the ball at his feet in the penalty area, found the side-netting with just goalkeeper Robert Green to beat.

Both McKenzie and Huckerby went close with efforts in the latter stages of the opening period while, four minutes into the second half Wigan had a genuine penalty appeal turned down despite Mackay bundling Roberts off the ball.

Six minutes later, in the 55th minute, Svensson finally relieved the Carrow Road tension as he gave Norwich the lead with a wonderfully taken first-time shot from 25 yards out which sailed over Filan.

On 65 minutes, Jewell was once again left bemused over another decision from referee Paul Armstrong as Gary Teale's goal was ruled out for a foul by Roberts in the build-up. No one else in Carrow Road saw it.

Just seven minutes later, the ever-dangerous Huckerby doubled the advantage with a superb solo effort, receiving the ball from Svensson before embarking on a winding run which he rounded off with a neat tap-in for his 12th goal of the season.

The impressive Bullard hit the crossbar with four minutes left but in the end the Norwich manager, Nigel Worthington, was left pleased with his side's performance. "It was a very big victory for us. Wigan are a good side but the approach of my players was very pleasing. The work ethic was there and that is what I like. The two finishes were of the highest order."

Jewell added: "We had two decisions go against us and they were both wrong. I didn't waste my time asking the referee for an explanation, but Norwich were bigger and stronger and deserved the win."

Goals: Svensson (55) 1-0, Huckerby (72) 2-0

Norwich City (4-3-1-2): Green; Edworthy, Mackay, Fleming, Drury; Holt, Francis, Cooper (Mulryne 90); Huckerby; McKenzie (Brennan 80), Svensson. Substitutes not used: Crichton (gk), Henderson, Jarvis.

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Filan; Baines, De Vos, Breckin, Eaden; Liddell (McCulloch 70), Bullard, Jarrett (Farrelly 75), Mahon (Teale 59); Ellington, Jason Roberts. Substitutes not used: Walsh (gk), Mitchell.

Bookings: Norwich: McKenzie. Wigan: Eason, Jason Roberts.

Referee: P Armstrong (Berkshire)

Attendance: 23,446

Man-of-the-Match: Darren Huckerby

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