Wigan 0-0 Millwall: Virtual inanity

Match of the Day filming in progress. (c)Dr. Waldern/Virtuality Group

Match of the Day filming in progress. (c)Dr. Waldern/Virtuality Group

It isn’t often I get to see a game that doesn’t feature Wigan Athletic these days, but on Sunday afternoon I made a point of watching the Stoke-Swansea Premier League match. It *did* mean forfeiting lunch due to my habit of spraying my TV screen with half-chewed mashed potato when the ref gives a dodgy penalty (or two), but scattered sightings of a mythical 8-0 on Saturday caught my attention.

Could it really have been true, a team scoring eight goals? On the basis of Wigan Athletic’s recent matches, I’m inclined to say ‘heck no’. Any Match of the Day footage you might have illegally downloaded from YouTube has been simulated by sophisticated computers running FIFA 15 on 3,000 linked 4k pocket calculators. And don’t point to a certain 9-1 scoreline from a few years back, because we all know that never really happened.

Anyway, back to that match at the Britannia Stadium. When Charlie Adam attempted to catch Fabianski off his line from 45 yards, my mind was cast back to a Stoke-Latics game you may remember vividly. I definitely do, and proceeded to bore everyone within earshot with a blow-by-blow match report right down to the colour of Emmerson Boyce’s blood-stained bandage.

It was disappointing, then, that all the (obviously rookie) commentator was muster was “who does Adam think he is, Xabi Alonso?” Unfortunately, the likes of Maynor Figueroa are written out of history by Winston Smith types with corrective fluid and a perpetually blunt pencil. It even made me wonder if (Probably) The Greatest Goal In The History Of The Club was automatically generated on 2009′s equivalent of FIFA 15.

There’s goals in them thar matches! Maybe.

Speaking of FA Cup heroes, sightings of the legend that is Paul Scharner were soon quashed when I confirmed to reception staff that it was actually me that people were mistaking for the Austrian beefcake. But while making my way to my seat, I had to stop for at least ten seconds when Maynor Figueroa – yep, he of That Goal fame – was announced among the Latics starting line up. Was it really him, or a computer simulation from FIF… yeah, you get the message.

Latics and the Lions trade virtual blows. (c)Dr. Waldern/Virtuality Group

Latics and the Lions trade virtual blows. (c)Dr. Waldern/Virtuality Group

Wigan’s lively start offered hope, false or otherwise, that the conspiracy is a load of nonsense created by slightly irritated small time internet webloggers. Adam Forshaw set up Shaun Maloney for an effort that was parried away by an extremely jittery David Forde, whom they must have fed extra coffee to combat that touch of bite in the autumn air. Heck, even the linesmen brought extra screws to prevent the goal frames melting into the North and South Stands.

But the hosts’ threat could not be nailed down, and melt away it inevitably did. The visitors didn’t fully grasp this until after the half time break, when the contest more closely resembled a game of NBA Live 15. Hey, at least there was now a chance of goals, which I would have gladly taken from either side at that point… OK, that was an exaggeration, but I do so miss the sound of ball on net.

It was during this period that those fabled goals were most likely. Sub Callum McManaman struck Forde’s crossbar by either accident or design, while Ricardo Wheresya-Fullergone simply froze on the spot when but two steps from poking home the winner. Yeah, there were about 20-30 minutes to play, but it would most likely have been the deciding factor in a contest lacking any sort of finish. Even the layer of varnish coating Scott Carson’s goalposts was starting to peel under the pressure of 35mph mizzle.

No Score Draw Hall of Fame Entry #937

However, both sides’ penetration had also peeled away by the 80th minute. The return of fan favourite Roger Espinoza brought the crowd to life for a brief period, but it could not spur the Honduran, or indeed his team-mates, into any sort of onion bag bashing. By which I mean goal-scoring.

Maynor Figueroa signs his poster

Due to budget cuts, Maynor ‘Shoot’ Figueroa did not sign a paper contract, rather a poster in the club shop. (c)Illarterate

This early autumn nogoal-virus was having a curious effect on those at pitch level. When faced with the final third, legs began to malfunction as Mr Invisible became runaway leader of the pass completion rate table. I won’t go so far as to say he was in fact The Ghost of Jordi Gomez, because the Wigan midfield has actually developed from a spectral shade into a physical entity in the past couple of weeks.

But for a match summary, see Forest and Brentford, if you can bear to do so. Alternatively, go and buy the latest version of a certain football video game and explore alternative, more palatable realities you might pitch to the Football League Show.

Match highlights courtesy @Laticsofficial

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