How did Hugo's Stoke strike figure?
The decision of who will win JWAW Goal of the Season 2011 is less clear cut than last year, which saw Maynor Figueroa take not only the Latics award but BBC’s Premier League-wide accolade as well. To genuinely beat a goalkeeper from 60 yards is quite remarkable, and it was always going to be hard to top that effort. Nevertheless, of the forty goals scored by Latics in the 2010-11 Premier League, we’ve seen some real crackers.
It was also a difficult decision as to which criteria should be applied; by right, you’d say Charles N’Zogbia’s last minute strike against West Ham (15 May) and Hugo Rodallega’s goal v. Stoke (22 May) ought to occupy #1 and #2 as they were the most important. However, it’s always a case of balancing quality with match situation, a quandary which others may interpret differently. In fact, I’m not entirely happy with some of my own placings of these goals, which I’m sure I’ll change my mind about after I see the season review DVD, but I think I got the big ones in there.
With that out of the way, here are Jesus Was A Wiganer’s Latics Goals of the Season 2010-11.
10. Tom Cleverley v. West Ham, 27 November 2010
The Man United loanee scored some decent goals in his time at Wigan, the best of which may well be a smooth 16-yard shot that left Green floundering. After one of his trademark runs into the opposition area, Charles N’Zogbia laid the ball off to the England U21 International who curled the ball first time with his right foot into the far corner of the goal.
9. Hugo Rodallega v. Blackpool, 16 April 2011
This one involved two slices of fortune in that Craig Cathcart first gave the ball away and then slipped at a crucial moment when desperately tracking back, allowing Rodallega to steal in. But for the considerable help Latics received from Blackpool’s defence, the goal would have ranked much higher in this list, as it set Wigan on the road to a crucial away win at Bloomfield Road. From the halfway line, Charles N’Zogbia placed a neat through ball which the Colombian accepted, duly finishing in emphatic fashion past Gilks. Hugo’s right footed strike left the ‘Pool keeper flat on his bottom as the ball nestled in the far corner of the goal.
8. Conor Sammon v. West Ham, 15 May 2011
It’s one thing to score your first goal for a club, it’s another to do so under the extreme pressure of relegation which Wigan faced at 2-1 down to West Ham. And granted, you might have backed him to score in such a position, but he still had to put it away. That he did, in assured fashion, converting a fantastic Ben Watson pass with a quick jink past one defender before executing a wonderful one-touch finish with his right peg. A natural goalscorer’s goal, you might say, and one that was instrumental to Wigan’s eventual survival.
7. Charles N’Zogbia v. Blackburn, 6 November 2010
Jordi Gomez won one of his many free kicks in opposition territory, this time for a foul by Phil Jones. Charles N’Zogbia stepped up to take it, and from 30 yards placed the ball perfectly through the Blackburn wall and into the goal off Robinson’s left hand post. It would prove only a consolation goal for Latics, who went on to lose 2-1, but provided a memorable moment from an otherwise forgettable match.
6. Jordi Gomez v. Wolves, 2 October 2010
Charles N’Zogbia won a foul for Latics right on the edge of the Wolves area. With his left foot, the Spaniard completely evaded the wall to smash the ball into Hahnemann’s net off the underside of the crossbar to the delight of the South Stand. The sheer power of the strike left the Wolves keeper with no chance, but it still had to be reasonably well placed. The goal got Latics up and running in the game, which they ultimately won 2-0.
5. Charles N’Zogbia v. West Ham (2nd goal), 15 May 2011
Okay, so this could easily have been number one, reasons for which I have already explained. I doubt, however, that Charles will be too aggrieved because of his overwhelming dominance of this list – I had to exclude his screamer at Newcastle because I might be accused of pro-Zog bias…
With but seconds to play, N’Zogbia embarked upon one of his runs from the right wing into the area. He managed to get a shot away, and must have thought Rob Green had it covered as the ball seemed to be heading right at the Hammers #1 for a comfortable save. He only succeeded in diving over it, though, and the ball rolled its way into the North Stand goal, sparking incredible scenes at the DW. Soft, perhaps. Crucial? You bet your life.
4. Hugo Rodallega v. Stoke, 22 May 2011
Of the Colombian’s nine league goals this season, there’s no doubting this was the most important. I probably don’t need to reiterate the match situation, which demanded a Latics result or else.
Maynor Figueroa ran into a nice, large area of free space on the left hand side of the Stoke area. With superb accuracy, the Honduran crossed the ball right into the perfect area for Hugo to steer the ball around Begovic and into the onion bag. The only goal of the game, it secured a glorious seventh season top flight football for Wigan Athletic.
3. Mohamed Diame v. Sunderland, 23 April 2011
Charles N’Zogbia found himself in possession just inside the centre circle. Looking up, he made a short pass forward to Diame who chanced his arm from 25 yards… with spectacular results. The Senegalese midfielder, under pressure from the Black Cats defence, let fly with a solid right footed strike which found its way past a helpless Mignolet. Though Momo’s corker put Latics 1-0 up, they would eventually lose the game 4-2 with all goals coming in a remarkable 45 minutes of football.
2. Charles N’Zogbia v. West Ham (1st goal), 15 May 2011
To round off a list which includes an incredible four strikes against West Ham (which is, incidentally, every goal Latics scored against them this season), what better than the best of a super bunch of Charles N’Zogbia crackers to make the top ten?
When the Frenchman earned himself a free kick just outside the Hammers area, there was no doubting who should take it. Though Watson and Rodallega stood over the ball, it was always N’Zogbia’s baby; with power and pinpoint placement, he smacked the ball into the top right corner of Green’s goal, the England keeper nowhere near.
The goal sparked a comeback the likes of which we may never witness again at the DW Stadium, a game that will go down in history along with the following week’s crucial Stoke clash as real season-saving material.
1. James McCarthy v. Blackburn, 5 Feb 2011
I have to admit, it was a toss-up between this and Charlie’s free kick against the Hammers but Macca’s just about takes the cake on account of its sheer technical brilliance.
Paul Robinson punched away a powerful strike from Charles N’Zogbia, but the ball simply found its way back to the Frenchman. He now faced a sea of Blackburn defenders, but managed to get a pass away to McCarthy from just inside the area. Upon receiving the ball, the Irishman pulled off a wonderful string of three touches, first bringing the ball under control before setting himself up with his right foot and finishing past four defenders with his left. The ball hardly touched the ground, which is just as well as the pitch was cutting up something crazy. Robin Van Persie would have been proud.
Conor Sammon image: Alasdair Middleton