Latics secured a crucial victory in their quest for Premier League survival with a 90th minute goal by Arouna Kone. Jean Beausejour had given them the lead in the first half but Newcastle equalised in the second half through Davide Santon before Wigan’s controversial late winner. James McCarthy’s corner appeared to be handled by Maynor Figueroa and a goalmouth melee ensued before Kone finished from close range.
Wigan are now within three points of relegation rivals Aston Villa who occupy 17th spot and four points behind Southampton and Sunderland in 16th and 15th places.
The result was crucial if Wigan were to have a realistic chance of escaping the drop and they started the first half were they had left off against Everton in the FA Cup.
Wigan had retained the same line-up from their FA Cup success and their three-pronged attack of league debutant Callum McManaman, Arouna Kone and Shaun Maloney immediately posed problems for the Magpies back line.
It was McManaman who created the first goal on 18 minutes when his jinking run and cross set up Jean Beausejour who side footed home through the Newcastle keeper Elliot’s legs from eight yards out to give Latics the lead.
More chances followed as they dominated the half, Shaun Maloney had an excellent effort well saved by Elliot and only a last-ditch challenge from Jonas Gutierrez denied James McCarthy adding a second.
Newcastle’s only chance of the first period came when Steven Taylor headed Sylvain Marveaux’s corner straight at Latics league debutant keeper Joel Robles.
The major controversy of the half came when McManaman clashed with Newcastle defender Massadio Haidara. The young Liverpudlian striker initially clipped the ball but his mistimed follow through into Haidara’s knee had the Frenchmen carried off with serious ligament damage. Referee Mark Halsey who was about ten yards from the incident awarded Newcastle a free kick but did not book McManaman. The challenge was certainly reckless and was the result of a desperate attempt to win the ball rather than a deliberate attempt to injure an opponent.
But as the players left the pitch for the interval Newcastle’s coaching staff reacted angrily to McManaman and subsequently both Wigan’s first-team coach Graham Barrow and Newcastle coach John Carver were sent to the stands for the second period.
Immediately after the break Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa denied McManaman as Wigan continued to look threatening. But the young striker had to be withdrawn soon afterwards with an injury and the team seemed to lose some momentum.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew moved to a three-man defence and this allowed Santon to venture further forward down the right. It was the Italian full back who drew the Magpies level with 18 minutes remaining following a clever pass by Papiss Cisse after Paul Scharner had given away possession in midfield.
As the match moved towards full-time it looked as though Wigan would be unable to get the all important winner but goal poacher Kone popped up in the box to score his fifth goal in five matches and give Wigan an invaluable three points in their fight against relegation.