- Wigan Athletic were held to a 0-0 draw by play-off hopefuls Norwich City at the DW Stadium.
- It was a frustrating afternoon for the hosts as they had had enough clear-cut chances to claim all three points but some poor finishing and excellent goalkeeping by Angus Gunn saved the visitors.
- Will Keane had two great opportunities and Callum Lang another as Latics failed to make the breakthrough.
- Despite adopting an attacking formation David Wagner’s team failed to trouble Latics keeper Ben Amos throughout.
- Latics lost centre back Jack Whatmough to a serious looking injury on 34 minutes but substitute Steven Caulker made some important interceptions as the points were shared.
- Latics drop to the bottom of the table on goal difference but they are still only three points from safety. Norwich remain in ninth place.
Shaun Maloney made two changes from the midweek draw at Bristol City, with Lang and Keane returning to the starting line-up in place of Thelo Aasgaard and the ineligible Danel Sinani who was unable to play against his parent club.
Latics started on the front foot and had an early chance when Lang chased a long ball over the top and outmuscled defender Grant Hanley, before driving a low shot towards the near post, but Angus Gunn did well keep out the effort.
Latics high press resulted in another opportunity just five minutes later. Norwich tried to play out from defence but only managed to give Keane a chance to drive into the area and shoot, but Gunn did superbly to come out quickly and make a point blank save.
With the Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny watching from the stands, Keane will have been frustrated not to take this golden opportunity.
Norwich had an attempt on goal in the 17th minute when Josh Sargent was free in the penalty area, but his low effort from a tight angle was comfortable for Amos to save.
The Canaries had another attempt in the 29th minute when former Latics loanee Kieran Dowell fired a low effort from 20 yards wide of the post.
Latics threatened again in the 37th minute with Lang again stealing possession from the visitors.
The energetic attacker played a one-two with Christ Tiéhi before seeing his long-range effort parried by Gunn. The rebound fell to Keane, but the Republic of Ireland striker couldn’t keep his effort down and the chance went begging.
In added time Max Power’s long throw caused Norwich problems and eventually fell to Lang whose volley into the ground was well pushed over the crossbar by Gunn.
An impressive first half display by the Tics, but despite the high press helping to create plenty of chances they hadn’t been clinical in the final third.
Norwich created the first opportunity of the second half, when Hanley’s header went wide of the post.
The second half was a much more even affair but neither team could take control and make a breakthrough.
Norwich pushed forward in the latter stages as Latics tired. Dimitris Giannoulis volleyed over from 20 yards out, but the visitors failed to trouble Amos with a shot on target.
Substitute Thelo Aasgaard tried his luck from 25 yards out, but his swerving effort was wide of the target.
Neither team could create a clear-cut opening in the second half and the points had to be shared.
Maloney’s men are now unbeaten in four league games and they will go into the local derby against PNE in confident mood.
This was another very good performance by the Tics. The improvement since Maloney took charge is quite remarkable. The team selection, tactics, organisation and commitment are light years away from Toure’s time in charge.
But Latics finishing against Norwich had let them down. They still need to improve in the final third with the normally prolific Will Keane not firing and Callum Lang and Ashley Fletcher only scoring one goal each all season.
I’m sure that Maloney will be working with his strikers during the week to improve their finishing against PNE on Saturday. If Latics are to escape the drop they will certainly need to be more clinical when the chances arise.
Charlie Hughes was my man of the match with another outstanding display. The 19-year-old defender shows tremendous maturity for a player of his age and he just seems to get better game by game.
Steven Caulker did well when he came on but the loss of Jack Whatmough to injury is worrying. Whatmough is probably Latics best player and any lengthy absence could be critical to their survival chances. Latics are already without injured defenders Jason Kerr, Martin Kelly and Omar Rekik.
Post match comments
Speaking afterwards Maloney praised his side for their performance levels throughout and felt they could have put the game out of sight in the first half.
“I thought in the first half, we were brilliant,” he said.
“It was probably the best that the players have performed in my four games, and the biggest disappointment at half-time was not coming in two or three up. I felt like the chances were that good, and that we had played well, particularly out of possession.
“I told the players – and I really meant it – that they were outstanding in the first half against a good team.
“In the second half during the last 20 minutes, we had to defend again. There were a lot of tired players because they gave us absolutely everything. At that moment, we defended with our lives to get the point.”
From the very first whistle to the last, Latics were backed by the vocal home supporters, and Maloney expressed that their influence from the stands made a huge difference in helping them earn another invaluable point in their fight for Championship survival.
“We needed the fans today. Everyone could see in the last 10 minutes that Norwich made numerous attacking substitutions, and we had to defend. In the last 10 minutes, we put everything on the line to get the point and everyone could see that.
“It’s appreciated when the fans sing for us, especially when we give them a performance like that.”
I can’t unfortunately see Wigan or ‘Pool scoring enough goals to stay up. I’m hoping a chastened Gary Madine comes back to save our season! I think that’s what you call desperate measure/clutching at straws.
I’m still hopeful we can stay up despite our precarious position. There’s been a massive improvement since Maloney took charge. A good result for Blackpool against Stoke who will now be looking over their shoulders.