- Wigan Athletic gained a confidence boosting point at recently relegated from the Premier League Norwich City.
- Latics were under the cosh in the opening 20 minutes but went ahead when James McClean slotted past Tim Krul in the 29th minute.
- In a pulsating second half the Canaries drew level when Max Aaron’s fired home in the 62nd minute.
- Teemu Pukki hit the crossbar late on for the hosts but Latics defended the remaining minutes resolutely and hung on for a deserved point.
- Latics remain unbeaten after two draws in the Championship and are 15th in the table. Norwich are in 21st place.
Leam Richardson made one change from last weekend’s game against Preston North End, with Jason Kerr coming into the starting line-up for the injured Jack Whatmough.
Norwich started confidently and Latics were quickly pushed back into defence.
Dimitris Giannoulis hit a volley towards goal from just outside the penalty area, but his effort flew over the crossbar.
The hosts continued their energetic opening and Pukki nearly opened the scoring when he fired his snapshot just wide of the post.
The visitors couldn’t get out of defence and Curtis Tilt did well to divert Milot Rashica’s goal-bound effort off the line after the forward had lifted the ball over the onrushing Ben Amos.
Latics gradually found their feet and grew into the game after the first 20 minutes.
They had their first opportunity to take the lead in the 22nd minute when Will Keane found Callum Lang inside the area but the striker was denied by an excellent close range save from Tim Krul.
The Canaries Jacob Sorenson then fired an effort from 18 yards out which seemed to surprise Amos, and soon afterwards Marcelino Nunez curled an effort narrowly wide of Amos’ right hand post.
Latics shocked the home crowd five minutes later when they took the lead through McClean. Keane capitalised on a mistake, before sliding the ball across to the unmarked McClean and the Republic of Ireland international made no mistake by calmly slotting the ball past Krul.
In a highly competitive game Latics were holding their own against recent Premier League opposition and the hosts were getting increasingly frustrated.
Very early in the second half a low drive from Rashica forced a full length save from keeper Amos.
Latics almost added to their lead in the 48th minute when Josh Magennis burst forward exchanging passes with Keane before firing a low drive at the near post but Krul pushed the ball away with his legs.
An injury to Giannoulis, after a collision with Lang, caused a long delay and immediately after the re-start the Canaries levelled the scores through Aarons. The full back’s low finish was close to Amos and might’ve been saved by the keeper on another day but it was not to be.
The Canaries now boosted by the equaliser pushed forward and Pukki flicked Sam McCallum’s left-sided cross towards goal, but Amos was able to save the improvised effort.
With eight minutes of normal time remaining Pukki, thought he’d won it for the hosts when his right footed shot from outside the box crashed against the crossbar, before falling to substitute Josh Sargent who saw his follow-up saved by Amos.
The referee signalled 10 minutes of added time and Latics’ supporters feared the worst but with some resolute and accomplished defending they held out for a confidence boosting Championship point on the road.
Despite the absence of last season’s player of the year Jack Whatmough, central defenders Curtis Tilt and Jason Kerr had been excellent and the team overall had defended well as a unit while posing a threat on the break.
After two consecutive draws against good quality Championship opposition Latics have made a promising start to their campaign. The prospects for the season are looking good but if they can manage to add a little more quality and depth to the squad before the transfer deadline it could be a very good season ahead.
Post match comments
Richardson praised his side’s performance afterwards.
“It was very resilient, hard-working, and hard-fought,” he said.
“It took us 15-20 minutes to adapt to their shape, and the pace of the game but once we got the distances, we were resilient in what we are doing and could always catch them on the counter.
“Before the goal, we should’ve scored but we grew in belief within the game as well. You’ve got to run to match the quality of the player – and with the five substitutes coming on, some teams are finishing with a stronger team than what they started with.
“That’s the challenge we’ve got to accept and embrace, and these lads aren’t half accepting the challenge.
“We’ve got to get that belief and education through the week to be better and repeat that Saturday/Tuesday. It’s going to be a tough ask but these lads have certainly got the mindset and acceptance to take it in.”
A large contingent of Latics supporters made the long trip to get behind the lads at Carrow Road, and Richardson was delighted that his side’s performance will send them home in good spirits.
“The energy levels that we needed to finish that game had to come from the stands,” he said
“It was huge (to have their influence). We wish them well travelling back home and it’s some ask and shift to get there for a 12:30pm kick-off.
“I’m glad we can send them home in good sprints, fall on the right side of the result, and make them have a good weekend.”