I had a Eureka moment this Easter weekend. As someone who barely gets the opportunity to watch games featuring anyone other than Wigan Athletic, it can be hard to retain any sort of perspective on a situation, be it positive or negative. In our case, it’s only when you watch Arsenal, Chelsea and even the England national team defeating goalkeepers with such ease that you are reminded what it’s like to actually score a g- g… bowl? Er, g-g- girl?
Agh no, that grievous affliction has returned… I can’t pronounce gowl again!
But forget my linguistic inadequacies for one moment. Take, for example, Charlie Adam’s awe-inspiring 65 yard goal against Chelsea, which I kind of have to mention in light of previous comments on this blog. Incidentally, each (obviously rookie) commentator conveniently forgot all about Fig Roller‘s obviously inferior effort. Which is nonsense, because anyone who’s ever attempted to lob a ball of socks into the laundry basket will tell you it’s far more difficult when the object is stationary. Yeah.
Wait, you’ve used that analogy twice before!
Sorry, I had a moment of déjà vu there… I believe I was trying to make the point that it was refreshing to watch a football match as a neutral for one weekend. Anyway, inspired by this new and revolutionary viewpoint, I vowed to treat the Wigan-Derby game as if I were a completely unrelated party and detach myself from the emotion of such an occasion. A stupid notion, perhaps. Probably.
Well, definitely – it was impossible to remain impartial. But let’s try and take a neutral point of view otherwise this could get sentimental. Again.
Regular Latics observers may have noticed a certain William Kvist rolling up his sleeves for long throws as early as the fifth minute. And selfsame observers will also have noted the Dane’s name on a concourse starting XI team sheet before someone stole it for their waste paper collection. Or maybe some poor soul has been wallpapering their house with them due to drastic recession cutbacks?
If you count those throw-ins (“they’re as good as corners, Jim”), the hosts chalked up a massive 35 (*figure accurate to the nearest 35) set pieces in the first half, making for a whopping two efforts on target. Except, I think James McClean’s header into Lee Grant’s outstretched fist came from open play – Kim Bo-Kyung was certainly the man to deliver a cross from the right.
The visitors had an equally creditable move thwarted by a lack of placement from Tom Ince, and Ali Al Habsi offered two big hands to pluck his effort from dense April cloud. That Ince and Bent cut through with such ease, however, was a clear warning sign that Derby would be back sooner than Arnold in any of the 32 films he says that line.
For their endeavours, Wigan were applauded as they left the pitch at half time. Less than half an hour later, however, those seemingly content supporters were to become very quiet indeed. Chris Martin had barely been on the pitch for six minutes when Johnny Russell teed him up just outside the Latics area, and the rest is bitter, bitter history…
Sorry, forgot about my self-imposed (semi) neutral point of view for a moment there. Let’s just say the finish was that of a 20-goal a season striker (I know, completely unthinkable) and leave it at that. I dunno though, I did get some strange masochistic pleasure out of seeing a goal being scored… maybe I’m more of a neutral observer than I think?
The home side had spent much of the second half unsuccessfully scrambling for possession, but Boyce and Fortune were the men to make way for a new strategy that relied less on route one and more on a rather rocky Route 66. Watch for those divots, Harry!
Although Latics’ new outlook inspired a few nervy moments for the Rams, it was too late – Jason Pearce’s mis-hit clearance gifted Bent the opportunity to slide one under Al Habsi and extinguish the hosts’ (admittedly dim) flame. He certainly did not miss.
The final throes of Wigan’s survival charge were symbolised by some bizarre feedback from the DW public address system, the errily apt last words of a troubled campaign. Latics’ Championship status shall remain for five more games of phantom football, but there is little evidence to stop Dr Time edging his hand ever closer to that big red life support switch.
Oh yeah, and Malky got sacked.
Never mind, eh? Try and have a Happy Easter Monday, and console yourself with a teletext graphic that doesn’t feature Wigan Athletic on the third sub-page.