WIGAN, England, Oct 15 (AFP): Wigan moved up to second in the English Premiership table after a stunning 1-0 victory over Newcastle at the JJB Stadium Saturday.
The relegation favourites at the start of the season took advantage of the early kick-off to steal a march on their nearest rivals and move above the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal, if only for a few hours.
Jason Roberts scored the winning goal that leaves Newcastle still languishing in the bottom half of the table, despite the arrival of Michael Owen.
Wigan survived an early penalty appeal as Owen tried to latch on to a Lee Bowyer through ball with Leighton Baines tugging at his shirt.
Wigan mustered the first meaningful shot on goal when the hapless Jean-Alain Boumsong inadvertently directed a header into the path of Roberts.
Robbie Elliott did well to shepherd the powerful striker away from goal but he still managed to fire in a thundering drive that crashed into Shay Given's near post and behind for a goal kick.
Two minutes later, French youngster Charles N'Zogbia wasted a glorious opportunity for Newcastle, failing to pick out Owen in a two-on-one situation that would have left the England man with a clear strike on goal.
Just before the half hour mark, Owen had a great chance to give the visitors the lead but slipped as he met Amdy Faye's teasing cross and fired the ball high over the bar.
Graeme Souness was forced into an early change as midfielder Bowyer limped off with an injured knee after a robust 50-50 challenge with Baines, to be replaced by striker Shola Ameobi as the Scottish manager went for a more attacking approach.
But just three minutes later, his side fell behind after a slick passing move from the hosts.
Henri Camara's flick picked out Damien Francis who fed Roberts to cooly slot the ball between Given's legs and Wigan were in front.
Souness responded at the break by bringing on the returning Emre in place of Faye and the Turkish international was quickly into the thick of things, orchestrating several Newcastle attacks.
Newcastle did have the ball over the line midway through the second half as Shearer powered in to head home a corner.
The ball was clearly over the line when it struck Baines on the chest and rebounded into play but referee Phil Dowd waved away the Newcastle protestations and the Wigan goal remain fortuitously intact.
Lee McCulloch was sent off five minutes from time for a bad challenge on Emre and Newcastle poured forward against the 10-men, but to no avail.