Here’s a scary fact for you: Wigan Athletic have failed to beat Fulham since the first Halloween… or at least 2006, which amounts to the same thing considering my BBC Micro-esque short term memory. I am informed Emmerson Boyce was in the starting lineup that day, the only surviving member of the Latics squad for today’s throwdown. And by that I mean all the others had died of old age as opposed to poltergeist attacks in the meantime, which is more unsettling than the rotten egg currently headed for your front windows.
Even scarier was the fact we had experienced more 0-0 draws in the last month than a certain George Graham had in a whole career of FIFA International Soccer playthroughs. Well alright, these ‘facts’ are pulled from some dodgy website rather than Statman‘s notebook, and as a result are slightly less than reliable. I’ll stop short of listing all the Latics-Fulham draws because we’d be here until Bonfire Night and my bandwidth for November would be exhausted less than 24 hours into the month. Besides, it’d be marginally less interesting than your (or my) typical JWAW match ‘report’.
Boo! Stick to the shtick!
Ah, that’s better! Anyway, amusement arcade gambler Mr Uwe Rosler was keen to hold his three lucky 7s following an opportunist payout at the iPro Seaside Bingo Bar. Much like the game of association football, there’s an art to winning on those machines, and it involves keen observation and many strong beverages. Gravy-based, of course.
Speaking of a certain thick, brown sauce, sometime Wigan Wetherspoon’s Superstar ‘Oogo Rodallega was back causing ruptures in the WGN within but a minute. Though his strike evaded Scott Carson, he turned to witness the Linesman’s Flag of Doom (independent b-movie?) flapping in the gentle autumnal breeze. Ah, now that’s why his middle name is ‘Offside’!
The hosts also had the ball in Marcus Bettinelli‘s goal, but *this* one actually stood. 9 minutes: penalty to Latics. Following his spot-kick failure exactly one week ago, James Tavernier was unceremoniously relieved of his penalty-taking duties in favour of Adam ‘Stick It Down The Middle’ Forshaw. And yes, that ought to be his middle name, because it really does work, Gareth Southgate. Ahem.
This opening 10 minute spell reflected an exciting half which saw both sides celebrating Mow-vember by running over each other’s defence with a large and particularly lethal lawnmower. Nowhere was this more evident than in the visitors’ equaliser, when Lasse Vigen Christensen brushed aside Leon Barnett like a bothersome midge to sidefoot past Carson with great ease.
When Bryan Ruiz chested home Ross McCormack’s cross at the back post, total domination was at hand for a lively Fulham. But Roger Espinoza wasn’t about to let that happen. Showing few signs of the supposed homesickness that kept him out of the team for so long, he volleyed Wigan’s goal of the season so far from 25 yards. Maynor Figueroa would have been very proud indeed!
In a manufactured repeat of last week’s McClean/Maloney supersub masterstroke, it was time for another action packed Saturday evening episode of the Double Mac Attack. With a double-booked Ross McCormack now back in his coffin, this was certainly a final ten minutes to set the VCRs for.
Sure enough, it was the Scotsman that slid home the hosts’ third, with his first touch of the game guiding the ball into the extreme bottom right of Bettinelli‘s goal. And within three thrilling minutes the visitors also had their third via another certain penalty – heck, Barnett’s infringement was bad enough to warrant a straight red card. The only argument was as to whether Rodallega should have been allowed to take the pen as he had limped off after the initial challenge.
One suspects only time prevented Hugo having the final say, but I would have liked the game to continue for another 90 minutes as repayment for those scoreless evenings. Quick, wrap it in tin foil and put it in the freezer for the fallow New Year period!
Commonly held belief: Two things are certain in this life: that Ceefax is dead and that Wigan will draw with Fulham.
Verdict: While the former is highly debatable, the latter is undoubtedly true. Even with a second leg, the tie would have finished 8-8 with 3 men left on each team. Can’t wait for the rematch.
Match verdict: Overstimulating.