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Newcastle's DW misery continues as McManaman's horror tackle goes unpunished
KNOCKED OFF HIS PERCH: Papiss Cisse fires over the bar from close range, much to the disappointment of James Perch
Final Score: Wigan Athletic 2 Newcastle United 1
NEWCASTLE have had some desperate days at the DW Stadium, but none can have been as dispiriting, or potentially debilitating, as this.
It is bad enough that the Magpies suffered their seventh defeat in eight visits to the home of Wigan Athletic, with Arouna Kone's stoppage-time strike plunging Alan Pardew's side back to within six points of the drop zone.
To make matters worse, Wigan's winner should not have stood as Maynor Figueroa clearly handled Jordi Gomez's corner at the front post before an almighty scramble ended with Kone prodding home.
But the really unpalatable part of the afternoon came 22 minutes in. Callum McManaman produced one of the worst tackles imaginable as he planted his foot into Massadio Haidara's knee, yet referee Mark Halsey somehow missed the incident and failed to even award a foul.
It was a recklessly dangerous tackle, with McManaman's studs clearly showing, yet Halsey would not even have stopped play had the frantic reaction of the Newcastle players not alerted him to the seriousness of the injury.
A straight red card was the only applicable response, yet incredibly McManaman was not even booked. It is to be hoped Halsey was distraught when he finally got an opportunity to see a replay.
Haidara departed on a stretcher suffering from a knee ligament injury that will be properly assessed later today, tempers boiled over to the extent that both assistant managers were sent to the stands following a heated altercation on the pitch at half-time, and Newcastle were left to nurse a sense of injustice that will only have enhanced their frustration at yet another away defeat.
Trailing to Jean Beausejour's 18th-minute strike, the visitors claimed a deserved equaliser when Davide Santon drilled home his first Magpies goal with 18 minutes left.
They would probably have been satisfied with a point to maintain a sizeable gap to the bottom three, but Kone's late strike means they cannot take Premier League safety for granted as they continue to combine their domestic duties with the demands of a European campaign. And now, they will have to effect that combination without two of their leading three full-backs.
As well as losing Haidara to McManaman's horror tackle, Newcastle also watched Mathieu Debuchy hobble off with a hamstring injury inside the opening quarter-of-an-hour.
Unlike the Haidara situation, at least Debuchy's injury was unavoidable, with the Frenchman damaging his hamstring as he drilled the ball into the net from an offside position. He was clutching his leg from the moment he trotted back upfield, and departed down the tunnel shortly after.
He would have been ineligible for European competition anyway, but the combined effect of his and Haidara's injuries is that Danny Simpson is likely to become a key player again in the remainder of the season.
The twin injuries cast a long shadow over the rest of the afternoon from a Newcastle perspective, with the visitors falling behind in the brief period between the two forced substitutions.
Ironically, Haidara was one of the players at fault as Jean Beausejour made an 18th-minute breakthrough, with the Frenchman failing to close down McManaman as the winger advanced down the right.
Davide Santon passed up a decent opportunity to clear McManaman's cross, and Beausejour swept the ball beyond Rob Elliot from ten yards.
Elliot had no chance on that occasion, but the Magpies goalkeeper made a fine stop ten minutes before the interval, hurling himself to his right to claw away Shaun Maloney's low shot.
Wigan were the better side before the break, although the Newcastle players' mental state might well have been affected by the sight of a stricken Haidara, and the hosts would have doubled their lead had Jonas Gutierrez not made a magnificent covering tackle to prevent James McCarthy getting a shot away after he broke through the middle.
Newcastle's first-half play was somewhat ragged, with neither Sylvain Marveaux nor Yoan Gouffran able to exert much of an influence from their wide positions. Yet the visitors still created two decent chances at either end of the opening period.
Steven Taylor failed to exploit the first, heading Marveaux's corner straight at Joel Robles despite being unmarked eight yards out, and Papiss Cisse wasted the second when he hooked the ball high over the crossbar after Perch had nodded Moussa Sissoko's hanging cross into his path.
The half-time interval brought ugly scenes, with Newcastle assistant John Carver becoming embroiled in an unseemly altercation with his opposite number, Graham Barrow, that eventually also involved a phalanx of stewards and backroom officials.
Carver entered the field to remonstrate with McManaman, was jostled by a number of Wigan staff members and had to be physically restrained by Perch to prevent a distasteful situation becoming worse.
With all of that going on, Pardew's main half-time task was to refocus his players' minds and, to their credit, Newcastle began the second half with an increased intensity.
Cisse failed to make the most of two difficult opportunities, fluffing an attempted volley as Marveaux's chipped through ball sailed over his shoulder before blazing wildly over the crossbar from the right of area despite a number of his team-mates being better placed in the middle.
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was forced to produce a smart block to prevent McManaman shooting home, but Wigan were markedly less threatening after the break and Newcastle's increased enterprise was rewarded when they levelled.
Cisse's flicked through ball sent Santon scampering down the right, and after outpacing Figueroa, the Italian drilled a crisp low strike into the bottom left-hand corner.
Buoyed by their equaliser, Newcastle began to commit more men forward in search of a winner, and Cisse came close when he prodded Shola Ameobi's low cross wide at the front post.
However, there was to be a sting in the tail in stoppage time, with Halsey again contributing to Newcastle's downfall.
The referee failed to spot Figueroa's handball as he leapt for a corner, and the subsequent scramble ended with the ball in the net. Perch challenged Paul Scharner in the six-yard box, the ball rebounded to hit Franco Di Santo in the face, and Kone pounced to hook home from two yards.
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