Latics base camp in Cardiff on Tuesday.
Hangovers are invariably horrendous, and I’m not just talking about the films. I’m dreading that sobering up process even more than a marathon of said movie franchise, as after a spot of Callum McChamomile tea, I’m afraid I will discover that half the team has disappeared… and not just because my drunken double vision will be cured by that point.
To some extent, the alcohol has started to filter its way out of the system, and there have already been all-too-clear moments of grief for Latics legends past. Whenever the referee awards us a free kick approximately 20 yards from goal, I catch myself saying “give it to Jordi Gom… oh.” And I yearn for Maloney to execute one of his patented forays into the final third to earn an elaborately-worked free kick, penalty or goal. Of course, he isn’t *that* far from the first team, but until he’s fully fit he might as well be the bloke sat in the back seat shouting (erroneous) directions.
A first glimpse of the DW in what feels like months (actually weeks) was a welcome tonic, a tangerine-flavoured brew to celebrate the end of that seemingly endless tour of the United Kingdom. For a short while, the players can bundle their tents into the attic and fluff the pillows of their own bed, safe in the knowledge they won’t be walking 150-odd miles to some far-flung part of the country this week. Home again, thank goodness.
Predictability is one heck of a curse, if not for the small time internet weblogger then your average (or even slightly below average) Championship football team.
Wigan Athletic may have controlled the first half much as Billy Mitchell does Pac-Man, but the North Stand six yard box’s resident ghost was resolutely protecting his territory like a six-eyed fourth official might boss the technical area. That pesky phantom let out a blood-curdling wail at the precise moment Emmerson Boyce was to tap home Emyr Huws’ exquisite setup, shocking the Barbadian into an equally scary miss.
Likewise, Callum McManaman stumbled over said spectre’s discarded clogs when presented with what appeared to be a rudimentary sidefooter to consolidate the hosts’ increasing grip on proceedings.
Joe Lewis and spectre (not pictured) guard the North Stand goalmouth. Also pictured: the DW’s magical disappearing sprinklers.
But just as Rosler was thumbing through the yellow pages for an exorcist, Oriol Riera verily burst a hole in that troublesome poltergeist’s midriff with a solid strike to Joe Lewis’ left. The phone directory was sent back to the paper rack in Uwe’s living room via courier, AKA the work experience chap.
And Latics were on the hunt for more. McManaman continued to perplex the Blackpool defence more than a misprinted Sudoku puzzle. In a Japanese newspaper. Yep, he was that slippery, and played an almost faultless hand from there until his eventual 70th minute substitution. In fact, for a period of about half an hour, it appeared every ball into the Blackpool half would lead to a scoring opportunity for Latics, and the visitors were happy to grant them unlimited access to their penalty area.
Ready the proton packs
But as the home side’s dominance subsided, The Tangerines could build some much-needed momentum for a first Championship point in 2014/15. That North Stand ghost wasn’t quite exorcised, however, and returned to distract Nile Ranger from guiding Ishmael Miller’s cross into the same section of netting that Riera so expertly found just over half an hour ago. Maybe we can make use of this restless wraith in future contests? Quick, lure him into a bottle with a Holland’s pie! What, they sold out before half time? Agh, not again…
Blackpool were determined not to let the game fade out, and won a free kick in Jordi Gom… erm, Emyr Huws territory as the (six-eyed?) fourth official raised his digital board thingy. Unfortunately for the visitors, and indeed the poor recipient of the blow, the ball came to a nose-breaking halt right on a poor defender’s face.
With that final attempt, special teams sub Marc-Antoine Fortune hunted the corner flag as if it was made of chocolate and Blackpool were finished, their skins peeled and juices squeezed for next week’s half time refreshments.
McManaman and Riera feast. (c)Falk Lademann
A 1-0 scoreline might suggest a tight contest, but in reality it reflects a clash between two misfiring sides. They shared just three shots on target, two of which fell to the hosts – again, a fair reflection of the overall balance of play. Blackpool looked every inch a side in the early stages of a rebuilding process, while Latics’ performance was one of a team desperately scrabbling for form.
But as Wigan have now pulled clear of the relegation zone (heh), one feels it is about time to break out that aforementioned cider. Tangerine flavour, of course. Cheers!