Wigan Athletic 0 - Newcastle 1: Pardew applauds Ameobi after he puts early miss firmly behind him

Newcastle moved back into the top half of the table thanks to Shola Ameobi's close-range finish at Wigan.

Ameobi, in the Magpies side as a replacement for injured top-scorer Andy Carroll, pounced in the 19th minute when Ali Al Habsi blocked Joey Barton's shot and Peter Lovenkrands's follow-up hit a post.

Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor also both struck the woodwork for the visitors, while Gary Caldwell saw his header come back off the bar for the Latics.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It was a welcome start to 2011 for Alan Pardew as his side bounced back from two straight defeats and moved up to 10th place.

Wigan are left just a point and a place above the relegation zone.

Magpies manager Pardew was delighted with the character shown by his players.

"We worked hard and were disciplined and did the right things at the right times," he said. "A 1-0 away win, you take those and it's a good victory for us."

Speaking about an early miss by Ameobi, Pardew added: "When you miss a chance like that you can go negative but we stayed in that positive mode and I thought we were deserved winners.

"The group has shown all season we're of good character and some of the disciplines we showed (at Wigan) were first class.

"The most important message for a club as big as us is that we should expect to win every game, regardless of the opposition, and then we see where we fall."

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez was disappointed that his side had not managed to impose themselves at home.

"It was a very scrappy game and we were poor, not up to the level we know we can achieve and there were a few reasons for that," he said.

"After a slow start we were starting to show a little bit of a threat and creating opportunities, but it was one of those games where the first goal was going to be very important.

"We couldn't find a way to be ourselves, to impose ourselves, and to keep the ball. It was scrappy and we were looking for a bit of hope rather than a controlled performance."

Martinez blamed the heavy festive fixture list for taking its toll on an injury-depleted squad.

"With the amount of games we've played, we try to play at a high intensity and Wednesday's performance took a lot out of us," he said. "We have four important injuries and a suspension, so there's a lot of pressure on the players and they didn't have the energy to impose ourselves."