Coloccini late show denies Latics

The Argentinian headed home in the fourth minute of stoppage time

to snatch a precious point after Magpies old boy N’Zogbia had

silenced the St James’ Park boo boys. The 24-year-old Frenchman put

the visitors in front with a 22nd-minute header and then added a

second with a superb left-foot rocket to answer the cat-calls from

fans still bristling at the manner of his departure from the club.

N’Zogbia, who was once mistakenly referred to as “Charles

Insomnia”, tormented right-back James Perch throughout, and with a

little more composure, could have killed the game off long before

the final whistle. But substitute Shola Ameobi’s 72nd-minute header

gave the Magpies hope as a crowd of 44,415 finally had something to

shout about, and Coloccini completed the job in the nick of time.

The game started with boos for owner Mike Ashley over his decision

to sell the naming rights to the stadium, and N’Zogbia as a result

of his extended campaign of agitation for a move away from the

club, which finally paid off in February last year. But the boos on

the half-time whistle were all for the club the Frenchman had left

behind as the Magpies capitulated all too easily in the face of a

not particularly special performance by the visitors. Newcastle

were simply awful for all but a few minutes of the opening period.

They lacked ideas in midfield, where Wigan boss Roberto Martinez

had ordered his players to close down space, and toothless in

attack on the rare occasions when striker Andy Carroll and Peter

Lovenkrands, preferred to Ameobi and Kevin Nolan, saw anything of

the ball. But more alarmingly, they were horribly porous at the

back as right-back Perch’s education in top-flight football took an

ugly turn up an ever steeper hill. His main job was to try to keep

N’Zogbia quiet with a helping hand from Danny Guthrie, making his

first appearance of the season after recovering from a knee injury.

But the former Magpie gave him a torrid time throughout and capped

his afternoon with a quick-fire double which put the Latics in the

driving seat with barely a quarter of the game gone. There was an

element of good fortune about N’Zogbia’s first goal when Franco di

Santo’s cross looped up off Jose Enrique and dropped invitingly for

the winger to head across goalkeeper Tim Krul and into the bottom

corner. However, his second less a minute later oozed class as he

brought down Di Santo’s cross on his chest before smashing a shot

past Krul from a tight angle. Newcastle were laboured in their

attempts to get back into the game, although they came close twice

within seconds as clock ticked past the 40-minute mark. First

Maynor Figueroa had to head over his own crossbar after Carroll had

turned Guthrie’s free-kick across goal towards Lovenkrands, and

then Emmerson Boyce cleared the striker’s header off the line from

the resulting corner. It could have been even worse for the Magpies

had N’Zogbia opted to cross early to the unmarked Di Santo in

injury time, and the home manager headed for the dressing room with

chants of “Hughton, sort it out” ringing in his ears with his side

starring down the barrel of a third successive home defeat. What

Hughton needed was a swift response, but there was little sign of

it in the opening minutes of the second half as his side continued

to squander possession and make little of it when they had it. The

Magpies pinned the visitors back inside their own half, but were

unable to find anything like the quality of final ball they needed

to break Wigan down, although Carroll headed wide from Enrique’s

looping 56th-minute ball in. Lovenkrands found himself in a

promising position on the hour as Perch prepared to cross, but

although the Dane controlled well, Newcastle old boy Steve Caldwell

intervened before he could shoot. Guthrie drilled a 65th-minute

free-kick harmlessly over the bar with little sign of the fightback

the Magpies so desperately required. However, Ameobi, a 60th-minute

replacement for Lovenkrands, gave his side hope with 18 minutes

gone when he powered home a header from Jonas Gutierrez’s cross to

spark a belated onslaught. Carroll headed just wide seconds later,

but substitute Hugo Rodallega perhaps should have made sure five

minutes from time after being played in by N’Zogbia. His side were

made to pay at the death when Carroll flicked on Gutierrez’s cross

and Coloccini headed home from close range to cap a spirited

comeback.