Ameobi and Barton lead battle for rare triumph
Wigan Athletic 0 Newcastle United 1
Monday 03 January 2011
With its swathes of empty seats and pitch softened by rugby league, the DW Stadium is nobody's idea of a fortress but to Newcastle managers it has seemed like Stalingrad. This was their first league victory at Wigan, a ground where Graeme Souness, Joe Kinnear and Sam Allardyce, men who never fitted the Toon Army's idea of what a Newcastle manager should be, were jeered off.
As someone who spent much of his career south of the Thames and had previously not managed further north than Reading, Alan Pardew is nobody's Geordie messiah but, deprived of the services of Andy Carroll, he oversaw a Newcastle performance that had flair, discipline and a bit of grit.
Afterwards Pardew did what Newcastle managers are supposed to do and talked of making high-profile attacking signings: Robbie Keane and David Bentley from Tottenham and perhaps David Beckham.
"I can't say I haven't spoken to Spurs; they want to do some movement and so do we," said Pardew after a match that took his tally of points to six from four games. "It is up to them but we definitely want to sign an offensive player. I have spoken to both Mike Ashley [the owner] and Derek Llambias [the managing director] and told them we need to be positive in the transfer window."
Whether that includes a 35-year-old dead-ball specialist on enormous wages is a moot point. Bringing Beckham to Tyneside at the twilight of his career would be a clichéd Newcastle signing but Pardew would not rule it out. "I don't know about Beckham," he said. "He is a player who could add something to the squad but whether he is available to us, I don't really know yet."
Wigan have enjoyed a reasonable Christmas but Wednesday night's 2-2 draw with Arsenal had exhausted the squad mentally and physically. When Roberto Martinez was asked if Joey Barton should have been sent off for a late tackle on James McArthur, the Wigan manager replied that they were so bad that it would have made no difference. "We were as bad as we possibly could be," he said.
The Premier League's lowest-scoring club created only one chance of any note – a header from Gary Caldwell that struck the crossbar and rebounded awkwardly to Hugo Rodallega, who could only scoop it towards the great mass of fans wearing black and white.
They were already 1-0 down and Newcastle were to strike the crossbar twice themselves, once from the wild, tousled head of Fabricio Coloccini, another from Steven Taylor, a Newcastle defender with a more conventional haircut.
Nevertheless, Newcastle were operating without the man who has carried their attack on their return to the big time. Pardew denied reports that his greatest asset might be absent for up to six weeks with a thigh injury and said Carroll was keen to feature in the Tyne-Wear derby on 16 January.
When, in the opening exchanges, Shola Ameobi directed Danny Simpson's perfectly judged cross hopelessly wide it seemed Carroll would leave a yawning void. However, within a quarter of an hour, Ameobi was given another opportunity from a couple of yards out once Ali Al-Habsi had failed to hold Barton's low, diagonal shot. Peter Lovenkrands squeezed the ball on to the post and Ameobi was presented with a chance he would have had to have been in high heels to miss.
Subs: Wigan McArthur (Thomas, h-t), Boselli (Gomez, 59), McManaman (Stam, 84). Unused Pollitt (gk), S Caldwell, Piscu, Figueroa. Newcastle Routledge (Lovenkrands, 70), Best (Ameobi, 77), Smith (Nolan, 86). Unused Krul (gk), Williamson, Perch, Ranger. Booked: Wigan Watson, G Caldwell. Newcastle Simpson, Barton.
Man of the match Tiote. Match rating 6/10.
Possession Wigan 49% Newcastle 51%.
Shots on target Wigan 5 Newcastle 6.
Referee H Webb (South Yorkshire). Att 15,277.
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