Hoolahan earns praise from Hughton as Martinez bemoans 'self-inflicted' defeat
19:03 GMT, 15 December 2012
Norwich manager Chris Hughton hailed the contribution of Wes Hoolahan after the Republic of Ireland playmaker celebrated signing a new contract with the winning goal in their 2-1 Barclays Premier League victory over Wigan at Carrow Road.
The Canaries, knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Aston Villa here in midweek, made it five successive home league victories to continue their remarkable run of 10 Premier League matches unbeaten.
Heads up: Wes Hoolahan nods home Norwich's second goal to put his side in the lead
Good start: Anthony Pilkington celebrates after breaking the deadlock in the first half
Norwich: Bunn, Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Garrido, Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington (E Bennett 90), Hoolahan (Howson 84), Holt (Morison 90).
Subs not used: Rudd, Martin, Howson, Jackson, Morison, E Bennett, Barnett.
Booked: Bassong, Johnson, Pilkington.
Goals: Pilkington 15, Hoolahan 64.
Wigan: Al Habsi, Boyce, Lopez, Figueroa, Stam, McArthur, McCarthy (Jones 46), Beausejour, Kone, Gomez (Maloney 46), Boselli (Di Santo 72).
Subs not used: Pollitt, Jones, Di Santo, Maloney, McManaman, Fyvie, Golobart.
Goal: Maloney 51.
Ref: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).
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Anthony Pilkington set the home side
on their way with a well-taken effort after 15 minutes, only for Wigan
substitute Shaun Maloney to level at the start of the second half.
However, Hoolahan, who has agreed an
extension to stay at the Norfolk club until 2015, arrived on queue after
64 minutes to head past Ali Al Habsi.
'Fortunately for us Wes has signed a new deal and he has earned it, and not just for this season,' said Hughton.
'He was excellent today and to see Wes get a headed goal was worth the entrance fee alone.
'Wes capped off a really good all-round team performance.'
Norwich should have put the game
beyond the visitors, who were again hampered by injuries, but were
thwarted by a string of fine saves from the Latics stopper.
Hughton said: 'We should really have been more than the one up at half-time and when they scored, then there was a concern.
'We made a bit of hard work for ourselves, but I thought over the 90 minutes we thoroughly deserved it.'
Back on track: Wigan celebrate after Shaun Maloney (second right) scored their equaliser
Take that: Goalkeeper Mark Bunn roars with delight as Norwich regain the lead
Norwich's remarkable run – they have
not lost in the Premier League since defeat at Chelsea on October 6 –
has seen them climb up to seventh in the table.
Hughton, though, maintained it was
all about keeping a safe distance from any relegation dogfight, with a
trip to West Brom next weekend before Chelsea and Manchester City head
to Norfolk over the hectic festive schedule.
Hitman: Holt fires a shot towards goal, with Norwich on top of their opponents
Drive: Alexander Tettey launches a strike at Ali Al-Habsi's goal
'It is not being negative, but for a
club like ourselves, it is about keeping as big as gap as you can
between us and down,' said Hughton.
'There is no shame in saying that, it is a reality for clubs like ourselves.
'But our form at the moment has deserved it.
'We are a team which has to work very hard for the points we get, so there will be no getting carried away.'
Wigan, meanwhile, have now lost five of the last seven and remain in the bottom three.
The Latics job was not made any
easier following an ankle injury to midfielder James McCarthy, who was
replaced at half-time following a crunching tackle by Bradley Johnson.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez hit out at the Canaries midfielder.
'It was a nasty challenge, one incident off the ball,' the Spaniard said.
Tussle: Jean Beausejour (right) and Norwich City's Robert Snodgrass battle for the ball
Go for it: Roberto Martinez urged his players on as they struggled
'The referee has seen it and has given Johnson a yellow card.
'It is one of those actions you don't
want to see. James McCarthy has been in good form, and they took him
out of the game, which is very disappointing.'
Martinez added: 'It is his ankle
ligaments, we will X-ray it and get the results from the scans very
shortly, but I doubt if he will be available for the next 10 days.'
Wigan have several key men missing
through injury, notably in defence, and Martinez felt his team had
simply failed to get themselves a foothold in the match.
Good day: Chris Hughton (left) saw his side emerge triumphant with Hoolahan (right) in fine fettle
Hands on hips: Grant Holt watches on as ref Lee Probert blows his whistle
'Our start was sluggish and
pedestrian, we were very, very, very poor and had our goalkeeper to
thank for keeping us in the game,' he said.
'The second half was very different, we started to control the game and Norwich had to start to defend.
'We scored a beautiful goal and were
starting to build positive momentum, so our disappointment is the
smallest man on the pitch gets a free header in the six-yard box.
'I felt with our second-half performance we merited something out of the game, but it was a self-inflicted defeat.'