Since its grand opening, I have nattered endlessly about visiting Sharpy’s Fine Fish and Chip Establishment (Est. 2012), but never made arrangements to visit until last night. However, I would be made to pay for my lack of preparation, as some of you might already have guessed. But don’t ruin the story for the remaining 2%, you spoilsports!
Upon approaching the restaurant I was filled with a peculiar unease, a sensation in the pit of my stomach that certainly wasn’t that three-year old tin of luncheon meat I had for tea. (Pah, luncheon meat for tea, how stupid is that?)
“Oh, nonsense,” I thought to myself. “It’s like a proper chippy but posher – you’ll fit in fine.” How wrong I was. The moment I cracked open the front door but an inch, I couldn’t help but notice at least two dozen QPR fans heartily tucking into their fish suppers. Before I knew it, I was jogging towards Robin Park with fried potato stuffed up my nose and brown sauce shampoo covering my scalp.
Okay, the authenticity of that story is dubious, to say the least. They probably wouldn’t have let me through the front gates even if I had feigned a London accent, and travelling supporters are generally a more jovial bunch – they certainly wouldn’t have vinegared up the chips before sticking them into my various orifices.
I promise it wasn’t a bore draw.
At least, those visiting the DW from Dahhhn Sahhff seemed a cheery bunch. They remained vociferous throughout Wigan’s initial onslaught, which took in Nick Powell, Jordi Gomez and Callum McManaman attempts, and delighted in branding Grant ‘Juggernaught’ Holt a ‘fat barstool’. Not exactly the most original of chants but it never fails to make me smile, even if I disagree with the sentiment.
Next it was QPR’s turn on the fruit machine. Their general technique was slick and well-rehearsed, though much like those bandits, the machine can screw you over. In this case, Latics –and the fact the goals weren’t 35x50ft– were dictating the crummy odds.
In many ways, this match was like hopping into the Tardis and travelling back ten months to the very same fixture last season, except QPR were the ones now exhibiting greater proficiency in ball retention. Well, keeping the vast majority of your team from one year to the next will often breed a comfortable familiarity – I would be very surprised if the Hoops do not find themselves in the spotlight of the Big Bucks League this time next year.
Stone Cold Charlie Austin could have cemented his side’s dominance with a magnificent opportunity not long before the break, but shovelled his strike wide of Nicholls’ right hand post. It was enough to make Redknapp stand up, loudly utter a few obscenities, sit back down and cross his legs. Half time, not a goal in sight.
Don’t let the officials grind you down
Latics ate away at the visitors’ impressive possession stat with a stronger second half. The ‘portly’ Holt was granted a reprieve and Marc-Antoine Fortune now stood tall at centre forward, faring somewhat better against the steadfast Richard Dunne than his predecessor.
As sole corner specialist, poor Jordi Gomez was doomed to take them from both quadrants. This led to an amusing period of play which saw Wigan win a corner on one side, then the other, then the other again. After running the full breadth of the pitch a whopping three times, the Spaniard was grateful of a rest when brand new loan signing Marc Albrighton replaced him as part of a buy one, get one free double sub.
Unbeknownst to the home side, QPR were making a change of their own, and the pesky Andy Johnson was soon to make his presence felt. Following a decidedly iffy clash with the former Fulham forward (for added alliterative appeal), only referee Michael Naylor’s extreme leniency prevented Lee Nicholls being sent back from whence he came, much to the visible relief of many an East Stander. Hey, he hadn’t booked anyone all evening and he wasn’t about to do so this late. ‘Arry weren’t ‘appy.
In fact, the officials were starting to irritate most quarters of the Stade DW, not least Nick Powell, who spent much of the last ten minutes face-to-turf. Maybe the crowd (and indeed Owen Coyle) were projecting their annoyance at another 0-0 bore draw onto an easy target? Perhaps not, considering this had evolved into a moderately intriguing goalless encounter.
We’d better watch out, however. One more scoreless game and Wigan Athletic will automatically be ejected from the Football League… that’s how it works, isn’t it? Now take this point and sit in the corner.