Latics win controversial clash
Published 17/03/2013 | 18:26
Wigan striker Callum McManaman's horror tackle overshadowed a controversial but crucial 90th-minute Arouna Kone goal which handed Roberto Martinez's relegation-threatened side a 2-1 win against Newcastle.
The Latics forward, on his first Premier League start, caused outrage with a reckless knee-high challenge on Massadio Haidara which saw the Newcastle substitute stretchered off. He escaped punishment but referee Mark Halsey sent off furious Newcastle assistant manager John Carver and Wigan coach Graham Barrow in an unseemly fracas.
Jean Beasejour's first-half goal had been cancelled by Davide Santon with 18 minutes to go only for Kone to snatch a vital close-range goal in a goalmouth scramble in which the ball appeared to come off team-mate Maynor Figueroa's hand.
Wigan opened the scoring in the 18th minute. McManaman crossed from the right and although Kone missed his header Santon failed to deal with the loose ball and Beasejour fired through the legs of goalkeeper Rob Elliot.
Unfortunately for him McManaman's next contribution brought him nothing but condemnation, although there appeared no malice or intent. The youngster's over-zealous challenge did clip the ball but he followed through to smash into the kneecap of Haidara, who had only come on minutes earlier for hamstring victim Mathieu Debuchy.
McManaman escaped punishment from referee Halsey, who may have been unsighted, but as the defender departed in agony on a stretcher the atmosphere changed significantly as the game became much more niggly.
Halsey's half-time whistle prompted a commotion on the touchline as Carver went for McManaman with Barrow also piling into the fray in defence of his player. Both were sent to the stands for the second half.
McManaman's foul - and the subsequent fall-out - had undoubtedly affected the game but if anything it strengthened Newcastle's resolve - although their equaliser came from two uncharacteristic errors in possession from Wigan. Shaun Maloney, on the right touchline, and then Paul Scharner, even more crucially, gave the ball away and it was shifted from Papiss Cisse to Santon who fired home an angled shot.
Late on Cisse's close-range shot deflected wide by Latics goalkeeper Joel Robles was something else Halsey did not spot.
But just when it seemed a draw was inevitable Kone pounced in a goalmouth scramble from a corner, although Halsey's decision-making was again scrutinised as Figueroa appeared to handle in the build-up.