And let’s be honest, they probably wanted it more, too. I’m all for the magic of the FA Cup and that, but it’s absolutely humiliating when it goes against your team. On this occasion it wasn’t quite as bad as losing to Canvey Island, who (whisper it quietly) I believe were a non-league side, but it sure feels horrible.
It wouldn’t have been too bad had we managed to scrape through and got beaten by Fulham in the Fifth Round, at least there wouldn’t have been the shame of everyone coming up to you saying “haha, you’re that incompetent bunch that lost to the fifth division team aren’t you?”
Still, it was far less embarrassing than losing 9-1 to Tottenham: on that occasion we actually had a full strength team out and somehow contrived to concede that avalanche of goals, PES style, in the second half. Today’s result was more disappointing than anything.
You know how Wigan’s season has gone: it often takes a goal or spark of inspiration to get the lads playing to a decent standard. It’s a simple fact that was missing this evening – I daresay an early goal would have probably led to a 3-1 or 4-1 Wigan win as the confidence flowed, with probably even Jason Scotland getting on the scoresheet. It easily could have been, were it not for the lack of finishing instinct – oh so very close on so many occasions, but not enough experience or even luck to get the ball in the back of the net.
In fairness to County, they did and we didn’t. Simple as that. For all their shots on target and making Kasper Schmeichel work for his money on numerous occasions, Latics just could not get that crucial goal. Remind you of any other games this season? Sad to say it’s becoming all to regular.
Wigan seemed to be controlling the game, even dominating it, for the most part. The turning point came on 75 minutes when somehow the ball scraped over Stojkovic’s goal line, and like so many other matches this campaign, that truly was that. Wigan were completely shot and never really looked like scoring, a world apart from twenty minutes earlier when they laid siege to the County goalmouth, shots raining in like coins at Craig Bellamy (did anyone see that last weekend?).
But as has been mentioned, there was nobody in the Wigan lineup who could land that killer punch. For all their neat passing and tidy defending (well, for 65 minutes, anyway), Wigan just lacked someone to put the ball into the net. Someone like… Hugo Rodallega, who only came on when it was waaaaay too late and the tie was all but settled. At least he’ll be well rested for Saturday’s (more important) match against Sunderland, I suppose.
Jason Scotland, Paul Scharner and Scott Sinclair all had excellent chances but to nobody’s surprise, they only succeeded in finding the empty — well, save for a large replica kit flag type thing draped across the seats — South Stand on each and every occasion. A plucky Notts County held on and rode Wigan’s inability to find the onion bag, and even had a decent chance or two of their own, Lee Hughes’ well placed shot that forced Stojkovic into a decent save probably being the most memorable. Their best spell of pressure came around the 75 minute mark when Wigan capitulated — again succumbing to corners — but by this time the game really should have been put to bed.
Could Roberto Martinez’ twin signings of Moses and Moreno have made that difference? Maybe, if only they had the chance to play this evening. Still, there are no excuses – the team fielded should have been more than good enough to beat Notts County, and then some.
Positive note: Wigan got further than Manchester United and Liverpool in this year’s FA Cup. Negative note: nobody will give a monkey’s about that. What now? Well, time to continue rebuilding the club and try to quietly chalk this up as a failure… though I get the feeling we haven’t heard the last of this result.
Update 3/2: thankfully the press is more interested in John Terry, so we may be saved further national embarrassment on this one.
Pull yourself together, people, we have a league to stay in here! Notts County would be way more grateful of the cash generated by a cup tie, but we’ve got bigger fish to fry. Only problem is, I get the feeling we need to turn up the heat if we want to continue competing in this league.
[Is shot for finishing on the worst joke, if you could call it that, in the history of man]