“What is this new-fangled televisual technomanlogy, Captain? It is most… illogical.”
It’s only on a bitterly cold south coast Tuesday evening you realise that winter has truly struck. Not that I was anywhere other than Wigan tonight, but if the Falmer Stadium is anything like my house I’m sure they’d have been cursing the lack of cavity wall insulation. Apparently mud huts aren’t eligible for British Gas’s free insulation service, so I had to make my own out of an old caravan awning with the aid of an old Blue Peter VHS. Only a thin layer of gaffer tape is currently preventing it from attacking the neighbour’s car.
Just think, I could have been sat in the toasty warm Stade DW, a whole internet away from the obligatory Twitter meltdown (“win or lose, we’ll blow a fuse”) and comfortably close to a Beamback satellite feed. But my master wouldn’t let me out of this cage, so I am forced to type words into a glorified word processor with added ‘connection lost’. Hold on a second, let me just use warm my fingers on the crackling fire emanating from my suspiciously overused 2005 Windows XP computer… mmm, smells like roadside burger van. Okay, on with this article before the CPU’s radiation levels are picked up by UKNDA detectors.
7.45pm, eh? Blast, should have checked teletext.
Those that mistakenly believed tonight’s clash to commence at 8.00pm had a rather nasty surprise in store, for Latics voluntarily accepted a one-goal handicap in return for a pre-match corned beef sandwich. Sustenance was required after such a long journey in the backup coach from Bob’s Rent-A-Wreck, Hindley Green, especially considering the lack of an engine had led to Flintstone-style improvisational footwork. This resourcefulness may have got the squad to the match on time, but at the cost of a lethargic 25 minutes of ‘football’, and of course Gary Gardner’s 55th second goal. A new record?
#wafc arrive at Brighton Palladium in style.
As the hosts’ tight grasp strengthened, a bedraggled but relatively alert Scott Carson would be called into 17th minute action following an assault on his goal frame. Oh Mr Crossbar, you don’t know how grateful Uwe was for your presence in that moment. Meanwhile, Beardman was simultaneously relieved and aggrieved that his save would not count, as Sam Baldock momentarily forgot about that dratted archaic and thoroughly bothersome ‘off side’ law.
Much like against Fulham, however, retaliation (or at least an attempt at retaliation) did eventually materialise. Espinoza thrice cued up a returning Martyn Waghorn, while James Tavernier decided to test Christian Walton’s six pack with a 38th minute free kick. Again, highly inventive and industrious, but lacking the necessary screws to hold everything together. In other words, erm, it wasn’t riveting. Ahem.
Tch, you’ve been trying to set that up for five minutes now.
Look, do you want me to hire a new headline writer, Mr Level Three Header? Thought not. Anyhow, as Waghorn manufactured a double save for Walton, one sensed parity was drawing nearer – Latics simply would not allow Brighton to build their 18-yard box barricade in peace. A freakishly long string of attempts between 60 and 70 minutes knocked the odd brick from its uncemented position, drawing many a disgruntled look from the flock of Seagulls perched atop an increasingly secure wall.
“Thou shalt not pass!”
Having survived this charge, the hosts’ lead remained very much intact. Sadly for Wigan, the wall was now fully built and functional.
Worse still, a gaping black hole of non-excitement was opening up, despite the extremely low key introduction of Riera and McManaman. A (presumably) recovered Chris McCann also arrived in the 84th minute, prompting distant shouts of ‘watch out for that pothole’ from the Wigan end. But in truth, the long-injured Scotsman was under much more threat from match drift, as the game was fast pouring into an uncovered drain along with 60% of mostly wasted possession and five minutes of stoppage time played out in slow motion.
A final misdirected Maloney 20-yard free kick failed to even chip the smallest piece of moss from the Gulls’ wall, and soon Latics, too, were swallowed by the void of intergalactic indifference. With a seemingly endless fall to Planet Relegation-Zone initiated, one wonders how long it might be before Uwe Rosler suffers much the same fate. As Arnold might say, “Friday is judgement day, yaaaagh.” Also, “the pavement was his enemy”.