Newcastle edge past Wigan
Wigan - Shola Ameobi fired Newcastle to a 1-0 victory at Wigan on Sunday that left the struggling Latics deep in relegation trouble.
Ameobi's first-half goal was enough to seal Newcastle's second win under new boss Alan Pardew and leave Roberto Martinez's team just one point and one place above the bottom three.
While Newcastle are safely in mid-table at the start of the New Year, Wigan face a grim struggle to beat the drop.
Newcastle created the first chance after just two minutes as Danny Simpson swung a cross into the box from the right.
Ameobi was allowed the space to meet it but the striker was unable to find the target, heading the ball back across the face of goal.
Wigan went close themselves as a failed clearance from Ben Watson's free-kick fell to Tom Cleverley, whose curling shot drew a smart save from Steve Harper.
Cleverley was presented with another chance on the quarter-hour mark after receiving a neat pass from Mohamed Diame, but the on-loan Manchester United youngster volleyed over the bar.
Just as Wigan were beginning to hit their stride, they fell behind in the 19th minute.
Steven Gohouri was robbed by Joey Barton, who struck an effort that Ali Al Habsi managed to parry. Peter Lovenkrands prodded the loose ball against the post and Ameobi was on hand to tuck away the rebound.
At the other end Cleverley's deflected shot from the edge of the box earned Wigan a corner that Latics skipper Gary Caldwell headed against the bar, with Hugo Rodallega lifting the rebound over.
Newcastle were next to hit the woodwork soon after as Fabricio Coloccini looped a strong header onto the bar from the edge of the box.
Lovenkrands nodded a good chance over from a cross by Barton and the former Manchester City man sent a free-kick off target just before the break.
Mauro Boselli was then introduced in place of Jordi Gomez to give Rodallega fresh support in attack, but it was Newcastle who nearly scored 10 minutes later as yet another header hit the crossbar.
This time it was Steven Taylor denied after he got on the end of Barton's free-kick.
Boselli claimed his shot had been blocked by Taylor's hand in the box, but referee Howard Webb waved play on.