Newcastle United 2 Wigan Athletic 2: match report
Thanks to his memories of Newcastle United, Charles N'Zogbia could be forgiven for thinking it was game over once he had struck his second goal but would be the first to say just how much things have changed for the better on his old stamping ground. Newcastle were a soft touch against top-flight sides in the latter days of N'Zogbia's turbulent five-year stay on Tyneside when he jumped ship midway through a miserable campaign that resulted in relegation. Darren Bent may recover in time for Sunderlands tie with Blackburn, says Steve BruceSo, no one else at St James' Park could have been more taken aback than N'Zogbia when his old team-mates rallied to secure an injury-time equaliser through Fabricio Coloccini - the captain in the absence of the dropped Kevin Nolan - thanks to a fighting spirit that was lacking as the club slid out of the Premier League. N'Zogbia became known as Charles Insomnia thanks to previous manager Joe Kinnear but there seemed little doubt that he would give incumbent Chris Hughton sleepless nights with two goals in two minutes. The pantomime villain was booed by Newcastle fans - most of whom wish he was still at the club - but he responded by putting Wigan ahead in the 22nd minute when he nodded the ball past Tim Krul after Jordi Gómez's deflected cross looped up off José Enrique and caught out defenders James Perch and Mike Williamson. There may have been some good fortune about that opener but there was nothing lucky about his second. Joey Barton was dispossessed by James McCarthy, Gomez crossed and N'Zogbia cushioned the ball with his chest before whacking a rising shot past Krul. The mild-mannered Hughton looked furious and Newcastle were there for the taking thanks to the endeavours of a fluent, counter-attacking side whose opponents were booed off at half-time. It took a while for them to get going yet Newcastle slowly fought back and Hughton's decision to throw on Shola Ameobi paid dividends when he nodded in Jonás Gutiérrez's cross in the 72nd minute. Newcastle stuck to their task, the pressure intensified and Andy Carroll and Barton went close before N'Zogbia went off to a cacophony of boos as his former team ran out of steam. However, a never-say-die spirit came to the fore as Gutiérrez sent over a corner and Carroll headed goalwards to Coloccini who nodded the ball past Ali Al Habsi to avert a third successive home defeat for Newcastle. Hughton, who spared Perch criticism after he was booed by the home fans, defended his decision to omit last season's talisman, Nolan, and hailed his players' resilience. He said: 'It was my decision to rest him, he is a top-class individual and captain and he has played with a couple of knocks and that is why I didn't put him on the bench. It would be better to give him a complete rest and I am quite sure he will come back stronger. 'It was an opportunity to change things. One thing we have been able to create is a wonderful spirit and that is something the players have done. We needed it today against a very good, well-drilled side. We showed great character.' Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martínez lamented his team's shortcomings. He said: 'The game can be very cruel and that was a clear example of that. We were well in control and let ourselves by not defending a set-play when I couldn't see Newcastle scoring from open play. 'We are a very talented young group of players and showed that but we are lacking know-how and experience to see it through. That can be painful.'
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