Hughton relief as Fab leaves it late

That Newcastle somehow managed to salvage a point and avoid the ignominy of three successive home defeats does little to mask what is turning out to be a worrying slide for Chris Hughton and his Premier League new boys.

Hughton, a former Republic of Ireland international, acknowledges that, if United are to preserve their top-flight status, they must pick up wins against teams such as Wigan.

Already, though, both Blackpool and Stoke City have emerged from St James’ with maximum points this season.

And, had it not been for Fabricio Coloccini’s 94th-minute intervention, Wigan would have been added to that inglorious list on Saturday.

Hughton, however, hopes the defender’s injury-time rescue act can prove to be something of a catalyst for a turnaround in fortunes.

“A game like that can help kick-start the season,” he said.

“We had periods last season, albeit in a lesser division, when we didn’t play so well but we were able to get that goal to change the performance and get us a win.

“I am hoping this will take us into another tough game away from home in better spirits.”

It was former St James’ Park resident Charles N’Zogbia who had silenced the home crowd with a first-half double.

The opener, on 22 minutes, arrived when the diminutive wide man managed to out-leap both James Perch and Mike Williamson to steer Franco Di Santo’s centre beyond Tim Krul.

Within a minute he had another, Di Santo again the architect, this time serving up a cross for the Frenchman to lash between Krul and his near post from the narrowest of angles.

N’Zogbia had agitated for a summer move away from Wigan and manager Roberto Martinez perhaps senses the same will happen again when the transfer window opens in the new year.

“Charles’s value will go up because he is only 24 and playing for the national team,” said the Spaniard, whose side are unbeaten in three away from home in the league. “He will increase window from window, but he is someone we don’t want to lose. Charles is only a young man and you can understand every player wants to play at the highest level possible. That’s natural.

“But in this period he needs to help Wigan win football matches and help the fans enjoy his football.

“I am most proud of his reaction after the window closed.

“He earned the respect of the players which was probably the hardest thing for him to do and he has performed as he has done today on a regular basis.”

Shola Ameobi, a second-half substitute, who sparked hope of a comeback when he headed home from Jonas Gutierrez’s cross with 18 minutes remaining, was not surprised at N’Zogbia’s solo show, which was the perfect answer to the jeers of United’s fans.

Ameobi said: “My heart sank when I heard the boos because knowing him he thrives on that kind of thing.

“I’ve been at this club a long time and it’s almost inevitable that former players come back here and score against us, so I had a feeling Charles would haunt us.

“Thankfully, we have managed to grab a point.”

It was a point that appeared beyond them once Andy Carroll stabbed wide from barely three yards out in the 89th minute.

Carroll, though, atoned for that miss when, in the final minute of added time, he turned Gutierrez’s corner onto the brow of the unmarked Coloccini who stooped to snatch an unlikely point.

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