Okay, you can breathe out again. Rest assured there will be no ‘hilarious‘ April Fools’ gags in today’s post – after all, this website is one big joke for all 204 days of the year. And besides, it’s considered bad luck to play pranks *after* the first day of April, and we need to save up that fortune in our camel humps for Wembley. Yes indeed, for those returning from a month-long break in the internetless, teletextless San Seriffe Islands, that ain’t no joke.
While yesterday’s game wasn’t very funny, it was certainly an entertaining match-up with two teams in scintillating form exchanging heavy denture-disturbing blows. Prior to this super-heavyweight title bout, Leicester sat proudly atop the form table, with Latics a lowly fifth. But don’t let that fool ya, Rocky, for the not-so-humble hosts had not one, but two proverbial central defender-sized horseshoes smartly concealed in their (blue) gloves. Sneaky, but effective… as long as the ref doesn’t notice.
Seconds out, round one.
Leicester took the opening round, but only on points. Sometime Prestonite David Nugent was inches from inflicting an early knockdown with his swift right hook bolo, but only succeeded in side-footing Paul Konchesky’s scintillating run-and-cross into Al Habsi’s six pack. See, what did ol’ Mickey tell ya? Those stomach crunches paid off in the end, eh?
But just as the visitors were regrouping for a second round, the nimble-footed Jordi Gomez was cueing up a one-two to the jaw. His first effort, a left-footed grass cutter of industrial lawnmower proportions, narrowly slipped past the coat of paint adorning Kasper Schmeichel’s right hand post. But of course, he had it covered all along – those pesky Schmeichels always do.
In fact, Wigan’s playmaker-in-chief was fast re-taking control of a contest Leicester once held with a titanium-reinforced mechanical grip, and his next trick was to prove more productive than your average spaghetti tree. From a free kick he won with his own bare hand- er… legs, Gomez’s special delivery landed precisely on the forehead of Ivan ‘Rambo’ Ramis for an effort Schmeichel didn’t *quite* have covered. The end result? A couple of happy Spaniards and many more delighted Wiganers.
The Rosler Tapes
Quick to counter, the Foxes clearly learned a thing or two from the now infamous Rosler Tapes. I don’t know where they get them from, as I’ve been searching my local charity shops and takeaways and thus far uncovered nothing but unboxed copies of FIFA 95 for the Sega Mega Drive and snapped sporks. I hate my high street.
Anyway, Leicester performed a spot-on impersonation of Wigan Athletic with a speedy comeback worthy of the Charles N’Zogbia Award. Following a quick game of pinball in the Latics area, Andy King only had to defeat Al Habsi from 8 yards out… and boy, did he ever. Not even a stick-wielding Stretch Armstrong could have prevented the Welsh international finding the South Stand net with a juicy Cornish pastie of a finish. A joy to watch, even for a Latics die-hard such as myself.
In fact it had been one heck of a half, and more excitement was to follow.
Two assists, two defenders, two Wigan goals
Once a manic period of intense substitution activity was complete, Wigan emerged much the stronger. James McClean and Jordi Gomez were tearing through with some crisp passing moves of old, while James McArthur had applied a sticky solution to his bootlaces – not to keep them tied, but to help him win 100% of midfield balls.
And it was Gomez who chalked up his second assist with another set-piece, this time a corner pinpointing Rob Kiernan’s forehead with stunning accuracy. Now, it’s a sad fact that I haven’t often discussed Kiernan on this site, but his performance last night was thoroughly deserving of a week-long early summer break in a five star Hotelicopter. Failing that, his goal is just reward.
Once Jordi departed in a 79th minute sub for Josh McEachran, however, the visitors spied their chance. They ain’t heading for the Premier League for nothing, and ten minutes is more than enough time for a team of such quality to turn around such a deficit. Case in point, Dean (brother of Elvis?) Hammond’s 87th minute equaliser, yet another stormin’ set piece header to frame for the game’s collection.
Leicester the Likely
Either team might have stolen a winner, but I believe this was one instance where both teams would have banked the solitary point beforehand. Secretly, of course – one would always want to exude a confident front and boast about how you’ll stroll to three points, even if you’re about as likely as an alien invasion. As musician and professional Mancunian Noel Gallagher once said, probably while eating a cigarette, go around telling enough people you’re the best and someone will eventually believe you.
In hindsight, your blogger should have waited a few days before writing this report, as he is still in awe of a highly satisfying game of football. Is it presumptuous to suggest a Premier League rematch next season? Perhaps not.