Toon and Wigan share spoils
Wigan took an early lead but three goals in the last ten minutes resulted in a 2-2 draw at St James' Park.
By Shaun Moseley
Last Updated: 15/11/08 9:22pm
Three goals in the last ten minutes after an early Wigan strike resulted in a highly entertaining 2-2 draw with Newcastle at St James' Park.
Wigan fully deserved to go into the lead after just three minutes as Ryan Taylor's spectacular effort from outside the box left Shay Given helpless.
The resilient Lancastrians had been far more disciplined than lacklustre Newcastle, who left the park at half-time with boos raining down from the unhappy faithful.
However, the second half brought far more in terms of effort, controversy and all-round entertainment.
Emmerson Boyce looked to have been harshly dismissed for a second bookable offence in the 55th minute, but Wigan reorganised and did not appear in too much danger until the arrival of hit-man Michael Owen.
After missing a gilt-edged opportunity on 79 minutes, poking the ball wide from point-blank range, Owen scored two minutes later after Chris Kirkland spilled a Shola Ameobi shot.
Obafami Martins netted a second with a powerful shot from inside the area in the 87th minute before former Newcastle player Titus Bramble rifled a header past Given in the last minute of normal time to rescue a deserved point for battling Wigan.
Newcastle were awful for much of the match, and it was not until Wigan had been reduced to ten men that they started to make their presence felt as an attacking force.
Having slipped back into the bottom three after last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Fulham, the home side ran out knowing nothing other than a third successive home win would do.
Wigan arrived with both first-choice strikers - Emile Heskey and Amr Zaki - sidelined by hamstring injuries, and with Mario Melchiot having joined them on the casualty list.
But within three minutes of the kick-off, they were in front when Taylor's dipping 22-yard volley looped past an astonished Given into the top corner.
If the opening goal represented a setback, more worrying was the home side's failure to respond in anything like the fashion manager Joe Kinnear would have expected.
Given had to make regulation, by his standards, saves from Taylor and Wilson Palacios as Nicky Butt, Joey Barton - before he limped off injured - and Danny Guthrie thereafter were given the run-around.
It was perhaps telling that the most frequent ball-carriers for Newcastle as they attempted to fight back were full-backs Habib Beye and Jose Enrique - with the Spaniard in particular wasteful in possession.
There was little doubting the tone of Kinnear's half-time comments - although whatever he said appeared to have little effect as the game resumed.
That changed six minutes later when Boyce, who had earlier been booked for a foul on Jonas Gutierrez, felled Ameobi and was dismissed - despite his claims he had got the ball.
Butt, Fabricio Coloccini and Martins failed to hit the target with headers as the home side piled on the pressure - and Jonas was unable to collect Butt's through-ball after running in on goal.
But in the meantime, Antonio Valencia had forced a fine 57th-minute save from Given as Wigan made light of their numerical disadvantage.
Kinnear made his move with 22 minutes remaining when he sent on Owen and Charles N'Zogbia for Jonas and Enrique, and the England striker's big chance arrived within two minutes when Martins skipped around Taylor and squared - only for the £17million man to side-foot wide from six yards.
Owen then saw a header tipped over by Kirkland, although the game would have been over had Henri Camara's 76th-minute shot not come back off the post with Given beaten.
But the former Real Madrid front man made no mistake when, after Kirkland had parried Ameobi's long-range effort, he slid in to convert the rebound.Martins thought he had won it when he hammered a left-foot shot past Kirkland with three minutes remaining, but Toon old boy Bramble chose the perfect moment to exorcise his Tyneside ghosts at the death.
|Newcastle United||Team Statistics||Wigan Athletic|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|7||Shots on Target||7|
|10||Shots off Target||5|