Photo Gallery: Norwich City 1, Wigan Athletic 1

Most football managers understandably dismiss the idea that re-arranged fixture schedules, strange kick-off times and live TV coverage have any effect on their players' performances, not wishing to provide any excuse for a below-par display.

But it's fair to say that the cameras have seldom found Norwich City at their best this season and, after a forgettable evening at Sunderland last month, yesterday's visit of bottom club Wigan Athletic was another example.

The Canaries have won just one of their eight live TV fixtures in the Premier League – though there were very impressive draws against Liverpool and Chelsea – and while their meeting with the basement battlers provided a fair amount of goalmouth incident for viewers who didn't give up in favour of England's Six Nations triumph in Paris or, heaven forbid, Midsomer Murders, too much of the action was at the wrong end of the pitch for the home crowd's liking.

Wigan, it must be said, played some fluent attacking football, notably in roughly an hour between failing behind and equalising, and might have embarrassed City but for the vigilance of goalkeeper John Ruddy.

Paul Lambert's men certainly played a great deal better against reigning champions Manchester United a fortnight earlier, only to lose in cruel fashion in stoppage time.


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Nevertheless, a point is a point, and the main consolation for City in failing to dispose of the team propping up the rest was that while slipping one place in the table to 12th over the weekend, they actually stretched their advantage over third from bottom place to 14 points with 10 games to go. It should be enough to calm the nerves of even the most nervous mathematician.

Showing five more changes from the defeat at Stoke – only one of them enforced by midfielder Jonny Howson's illness – the Canaries had the perfect start with their first real chance producing the opening goal in the 10th minute, Wes Hoolahan netting a very clever fourth of the season.

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A badly sliced clearance by Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi gave the Canaries a throw-in on the left, Adam Drury took it quickly and Simeon Jackson crossed towards the near post where Hoolahan got ahead of a ponderous Gary Caldwell to clip the ball over the 'keeper.

After that, City lived a little dangerously up to the interval and, apart from a penalty appeal on the half-hour, when skipper Grant Holt's shot struck Caldwell's arm, Wigan, playing much better than a team in 20th place, had enough chances to have levelled.

Victor Moses shot tamely at Ruddy, but then provided the cross for Hugo Rodallega to turn smartly and force the 'keeper into a point-blank save.

There was an escape for City nine minutes before the break when a cross from Emmerson Boyce clipped Drury, looped over Ruddy and struck the face of the crossbar, and again when Jordi Gomez struck a fine shot that Ruddy saved but couldn't hold, Rodallega pouncing on the rebound but firing over from a tight angle.

As the game entered first-half stoppage time, Gomez set up Rodallega for a powerful shot that Ruddy again failed to hold, but grabbed at the second attempt just before Moses could take advantage.

After the break, Holt headed just wide from Drury's cross – his last contribution before making a rare early exit to be replaced by Steve Morison – but at the other end Ruddy had to smother James McCarthy's shot after a one-two with Gomez left him through on the 'keeper.

Ruddy saved again at his near post when substitute Shaun Maloney helped on a Moses corner, but the visitors finally grabbed the goal they deserved after 68 minutes when Maloney's through-ball put Moses through one on one against Ruddy and he swerved past the 'keeper before tucking the ball home.

The goal sparked City belatedly into life and, after a further double substitution, they might have taken all three points – or indeed lost the one they held.

Jean Beausejour rescued Wigan when Morison got his head to Pilkington's corner and he headed clear with the 'keeper beaten, then Elliott Ward headed wide from Elliott Bennett's cross.

Wigan substitute Mohamed Diame put a great chance over the top from Maloney's cross, but the moment that might have given City the points came with two minutes left when Morison was denied by a brilliant one-handed save from Al Habsi after he met Jackson's cross with a powerful header.

Five minutes of stoppage time failed to provide a winner, but Wigan went closest when Diame pulled another decent chance wide.

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