Jaws hit the floor as the starting line-up for Latics’ end-of-season ‘bash’ was posted on the noticeboard. At the risk of eliminating what remains of my street cred, I had forgotten all about those fringe-teamers Doris The Tea Lady, Dave The Work Experience Lad and The Matchday Fish ‘n’ Chip Vendor until this afternoon. I’m reliably informed the latter was a Hutchings signing, so that’s no surprise, but since when was That Bloke From JWAW on the wider squad list?
I am joking, of course. Not only has Rosler permanently ‘benched’ me after that unsavoury incident with the cow, but the fresh faces were kept to a somewhat surprising minimum. Well, I’m not ashamed to admit that *I* was on the beach, at least – Blackpool North Pier, to be precise. Hey, can you forgive me taking a Saturday off after a season saturated with up to four games a week for seven months solid?
Turns out I missed one of the season’s most thrilling encounters, a game which prompted BBC Radio Lancashire to promote their own network’s Football League goals show with great vigour. “Be sure to watch,” they said, “it’s a seven-goal stonker!” The small time internet weblogger’s natural inclination is to be contrarian and immediately disregard their child-like excitement, but for the first (and last?) time this season… nghhh…. I have to agh… agree with them. Nooo, conformity!
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Ewood Park knew it was in for a final day goal feast when Stephen Crainey’s evil typo twin, one Tom Cairney, raced 20 yards before rolling the ball beyond Scott Carson. Those defenders? Mere decoration, simply invisible traffic cones to be skilfully evaded like in one of those Ryan Giggs training videos from the catalogue outlet.
It was great to see (or hear) Ivan Ramis not only return, but chisel his name onto the stone tablets they use to record match facts. Yeah, Wigan have played so many times this season the scorers have run out of file paper. And it seems the players aren’t the only ones being saved for the playoffs, as that expensive official Latics branded note paper has also been set aside for such an occasion.
But there was no time to savour The Ram’s leveller, a proper defender’s nod-in at the back post, because its best before end date expired just seconds later. See, I knew we should have bought that dip-in freezer for the shed! Rudy Gestede’s ice cold finish was straight outta the cooler box, and Carson was beaten for the second time in four minutes. Three goals already? Hey, this was supposed to be a boring end-of-season knockabout on the back field!
Oh, you want more, you greedy so-and-so?
Alright, you got it! After the sides exchanged goal line-threatening efforts, Gestede emerged from 15 minutes of (relative) obscurity to extend the hosts’ advantage with his forehead of power. And who else but our old friend Craine- erm, Cairney could offer the assist? Wait, isn’t he the bully from The Simpsons?
As one might expect, the visitors took the initiative in an attempt to cut the two-goal deficit, which remained until the hour mark. Rosler’s decision not to remove James McClean at half time was prescient, as it was he that cleaned up McEachran’s slightly messy cross with the elegance and grace of a meticulous school caretaker. And in case you were wondering, that *was* supposed to be a compliment. Ahem.
Blackburn felt the onus pressing down upon them like a small boy crushing an innocent ant with his Doc Martens. I don’t know why, because only a seven or eight-goal swing would give them hope of a playoff spot. Nonetheless, Carson’s gloves were becoming irreparably scuffed by attempt after Blackburn attempt, and their fourth –and fatal– silver bullet was in sight.
Bed head redemption
Jordan Rhodes added yet another headed goal to the afternoon’s collection, a selection box of chocolatey finishes that might excite even Gary Lineker. Well okay, let’s not take this too far. But that Cairney bloke, of whom I’ve run dry of jokes and references, was once again the very man to start the set piece in motion. Man of the match, anyone?
The game was already won, but Nicky Maynard was not to know that. He was doing his best to earn a berth in the playoff starting XI, netting a pesky 18-yard screamer that might well have irritated Fortune and Powell. Not too much, though.
Paul Robinson bellowed the last laugh, denying Shaun Maloney the equaliser for an astonishing 4-4 scoreline, but we’d have to settle for the boring-by-comparison seven goals. Bloomin’ awful, I should say! What sort of a friendly match was that, eh? Harrumph, I’m going back to Blackpool until Friday night’s playoff first leg.
Well, that was fun, but now the season starts here.
You ready or what? QPR, Friday night. If you can’t be there, be here.