Perhaps the most exciting news from this weekend is the shocking confirmation that ghosts do indeed exist. Nope, I ain’t talking about the not-at-all fabricated New Mexico police station CCTV footage of a shadowy figure that made the mainstream news on Saturday morning. I’m referring to the ‘phantom matches’ that have totally drained Wigan Athletic of their vitality, skill and even ability walk in a straight line.
This time last season marked the start of a downward trend that can be traced all the way back to 11 May 2013 when Maloneyinto Watson humbled the mighty Eastlands Athletic at the DW Mark II. Now, don’t think for one second I am insinuating that this was a bad thing – after all, the subsequent Twitter-esque meltdown that led to Krispy Q Shortsman’s demise was as effective as any industrial strength weedkiller.
The moderately unsuccessful Europa League campaign that brutally mauled Wigan’s automatic promotion hopes has this year been replaced by a wolfpack of a different kind, namely the drooling Football League 91. And also the vicious Rottweilers that chewed on Watson and McCann’s legs as if they were a juicy Sunday roast. But mostly a transfer window left so far open that a whole squad of Beagle Boys could pass through with ease.
But that doesn’t entirely account for the general lack of fitness which has plagued the club since this wretched season began. Thus, I propose the Ghostbusters be revived to investigate the unnerving phenomenon of the phantom fixtures robbing Latics of their collective stamina. Here, click play on the following video before you read the remainder of this article – it’ll dull the pain.
The away side might as well have been mere apparitions for the opening 30 minutes, as Bournemouth could pass straight through them in their repeated journeys towards Scott Carson’s goal. Thankfully, said shotstopper’s hands were very much real, and he used them to deny Yann Kermorgant and Matt Ritchie (twice) during this time. Forget the fact only one of them was a true test of his volleyball abilities, because I’m trying to paint a picture here.
Carse’s sticky hands did not hold out much longer. Granted, they probably could *never* have reached Kermorgant’s header at the back post, as Ritchie’s pin-the-tail-on-the-striker cross saw to it that not one wandering Wigan spirit could put ghostly limb, head or even five foot stick to leather. A one-nil lead well earned for the hosts.
Two minutes before half time, however, the danger became very real indeed for Bournemouth. When Andrew Surman felled Emyr Huws in the Ghost of Jordi Gomez territory, Martyn Waghorn had a wondrous opportunity to suck up nigh on a whole half’s worries in his glorified portable vaccum cleaner. He steeled himself, visualised the ball sailing into the top corner… and, er, blasted it over the bar.
A disgruntled Waghorn resolved to mildly injure Tommy Elphick, and indeed himself, in a clash the other side of half time. This sparked a flurry of goalmouth activity that caused travelling supporters to spit out what remained of their half-time beans – but admittedly, that was also because they tasted like coffee beans. Oh, wait a minute…
3…2…1… activate. C’mon, activate! You can activate now…
Any hopes raised by a somewhat testing Fortune header on goal were immediately exorcised when UK Robot Wars winner (?) Simon Francis concluded yet another smoove Bournemouth passage of interplay. Carson may have saved it with a third leg or piece of tape tied between his boots, but such things are sadly not permitted by the Football Association, or even the ghostly Dead Footballers Association.
Much like last Monday, the balance was minus two goals to the good as the game entered ‘Latics Time’. Or, in this case, the ‘Lack of Latics Time’, because Wigan’s only real chance of the game was in the second minute of stoppage time when Andy ‘Sick o’ This Nonsense’ Delort destroyed his bedtime slippers with a ranged free kick effort. Hey, you might as well have a go! Well, here’s an idea – how about having a go when the game is still a contest?
Ahem, sorry about that, went into Owen Coyle mode for a minute there. Hopefully a ghostly wind will blow through the carpenter’s workshop and Latics will become real boys rather than a series of semi-functional puppets before ‘Do Something Whelan’ Time arrives. Or Callum McManaman will return, because that would work just as well.
Match highlights courtesy Laticsofficial