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Newcastle 1 Wigan 0

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At St. James' Park

Newcastle United 1 (Cabaye 81)

Wigan Athletic 0

Yohan Cabaye's glorious first goal for Newcastle gave the Magpies a narrow win over Wigan as United made it 11 games undefeated this season.

The Frenchman curled home from a yard inside the box - just as the struggling Latics looked to have done enough to frustrate Alan Pardew's side.

Despite having the leakiest defence in the top flight, Wigan proved a tough nut to crack until Cabaye struck at the Gallowgate End with nine minutes to go.

Leon Best and substitute Hatem Ben Arfa had earlier been denied by fine saves from Ali Al Habsi but it was the visitors who came out of the traps quicker in front of the biggest St. James' Park crowd of the season - 48,321.

In a cagey opening 15 minutes, the only real opportunity fell to the visitors when, in the fifth minute, the ball was allowed to bounce inside the United penalty area and Victor Moses struck a half-volley goalwards from eight yards out.

However, Tim Krul dived and threw out his left hand to push the ball over the bar with a superb save.

And on 16 minutes the Latics again threatened as Hugo Rodallega raced into the box but shot into the side-netting. 

Left-back Maynor Figueroa's ball was then kept alive by Rodallega and cut back for Ben Watson, whose driven effort was blocked by Fabricio Coloccini before it was able to test Krul.

Cabaye was then booked for a foul on Colombian Rodallega, who was causing problems for United as a lone striker, with Wigan's David Jones joining him in Neil Swarbrick's notebook two minutes later for a trip on Cheik Tiote.

A rare Magpies chance fell to Jonas Gutierrez on 28 minutes as Best did well out on the right and sent over a deep cross to the far post, but the Argentine's shot was charged down by Emmerson Boyce.

Then the same combination so nearly gave the home side the lead on 33 minutes. Gutierrez dug out a wonderful cross from the left and Best did everything right with his header, aiming downwards and across goal only Al Habsi to somehow claw the ball away.

Coloccini headed wide from a Cabaye corner as Pardew's side upped the tempo towards the end of the half, but on 38 minutes Mohamed Diame's long-ranger called Krul into action again.

A Ryan Taylor free-kick on 41 minutes swerved just wide but on the stroke of half-time, the home fans were relieved to see Best escape with just a yellow after a late challenge on Figueroa.

The Irish international was replaced by Ben Arfa at the start of the second half and Ba had a great opportunity on 50 minutes, when he connected with Ryan Taylor's cross but glanced the ball too close to Al Habsi.

Just after the hour mark, Cabaye and Ben Arfa both saw efforts blocked, then a clever ball from Ben Arfa just missed Ba who was sliding in at the near post.

But at the other end, Figueroa turned defence into attack with a wonderful raking pass to Rodallega, who took the ball on his chest and found the side-netting from an ever-decreasing angle.

Gutierrez saw a shot hit the hand of former Magpies defender Gary Caldwell not once but twice, as the ball bounced off one hand and onto the other on the edge of the box, but no free-kick was given.

On came Shola Ameobi, the hero six days earlier, in place of Ba, then Sylvain Marveuax replaced Gabriel Obertan and on 79 minutes Ben Arfa came alive, racing onto Gutierrez's pass and into the area before unleashing a powerful low strike which Al Habsi did well to beat away.

But in the 81st minute another Frenchman finally broke the deadlock. Ryan Taylor's cross was controlled by Marveaux and teed up for Cabaye to curl an unstoppable shot into the top corner from 17 yards out.

With two minutes left, Diame sent a free header wide but United's defence kept another clean sheet as three more points were added to the Magpies' seasonal tally.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Ryan Taylor; Gabriel Obertan (Sylvain Marveaux 76), Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez; Leon Best (Hatem Ben Arfa 46), Demba Ba (Shola Ameobi 68)

Subs not used: Steve Harper, Davide Santon, James Perch, Alan Smith

Wigan Athletic (4-1-4-1): Ali Al Habsi; Emmerson Boyce, Antolin Alcaraz, Gary Caldwell (c), Maynor Figueroa; Ben Watson (James McArthur 82); Albert Crusat (Conor Sammon 81), Mohamed Diame, David Jones, Victor Moses; Hugo Rodallega

Subs not used:
Mike Pollitt, Adrian Lopez, Hendry Thomas, Shaun Maloney, Jordi Gomez

Neil Swarbrick

Attendance: 48,321