Norwich City suffer a brutal Premier League reality check

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Paul Thomas/Getty ImagesKei Kamara and Norwich City are suddenly in danger of retaining their Premier League status.

Whether Norwich City like it or not, they are being dragged into a full-blown scrap for their Premier League future. Wigan's reward for greater urgency in the final quarter was a priceless match-winning 81st minute hit from Aroune Kone.

- Brown: Bottom half narrows as Kone does it again

The Canaries failed to trouble Joel Robles in 90 minutes of top flight action at the DW Stadium. That is a sorry statistic which Ricky van Wolfswinkel's high profile capture in recent days will do nothing to address. The Dutchman is a symbol of the club's ambitious future. Right now the present looks worryingly complicated. City's margin for error as they trooped away from the north-west is just four points to those clubs in greatest peril either side of the waterline.

Norwich also have to play the likes of Reading and Aston Villa on home soil. Those occasions at Carrow Road already look like they should come with health warnings attached. Suddenly the serene progress to a third season of consecutive top flight football looks anything but assured. The enduring frustration for Chris Hughton and his players will be the knowledge that Wigan for long spells were no better. It was a cautious deadlock between two cagey sides until Roberto Martinez seemingly released the shackles from the hosts with the introduction of James McArthur.

Hughton will also be irked by the manner of the decisive moment. It was error-strewn and extremely costly on an afternoon when the benchmark yet again on the road appeared to stick rather than twist. Howard Webb's inadvertent block in central midfield looked set to trigger a visiting counter until Wes Hoolahan's intended short clip to Jonny Howson rebounded into the path of Jordi Gomez, who superbly freed the pacy Kone. The Ivorian hitman still had plenty of work to do as he raced clear down Norwich's left channel but the fearsome hit from 25 yards appeared to go through the hands of stand-in keeper Lee Camp. With Mark Bunn suspended for his red card at Sunderland, the other side of the international break and John Ruddy still on the comeback trail after thigh surgery, this was a major opportunity for the free agent signed in the January window. Camp in that one moment failed his big audition.

City had been warned minutes earlier when Howson kicked Antolin Alcaraz's thumping header off his own line before Michael Turner produced a wonderfully brave near post block to deny Gomez. Norwich showed none of Wigan's belated potency at the opposite despite numerous periods of possession in and around the hosts' penalty area.

City have no choice now but to move on. Wigan's traditional late season march to Premier League safety is fully underway. Norwich under Hughton are no strangers to adversity. They have responded admirably in the darkest of times during this season. They will need to do so again.

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