Hmm, it’s orange. Care to guess the main ingredient? (c)Cajsa Lilliehook
Thumbing through my inbox this week, I was delighted to discover a ‘personal email from Gary Caldwell’… correspondence from Superman himself! Sadly I only got a brief glimpse before accidentally deleting it along with fake tax rebates and false promises from Ugandan princes, so I couldn’t tell you if it was indeed written by Gary, his secretary or Windows 95 speech-to-text software.
But whatever this letter contained, it was obviously pretty inspiring. Winning at the DW Stadium this season has been as big a task as lifting the FA Cup itself, at least for those other mere mortals to try their hand at the (rigged?) fairground pot-smash game that is managing Wigan Athletic. For the seemingly invincible Super-Calds and his apprentice Chow-Boy, however, this proved a routine task. Well, sort of.
Chow to win friends and influence people
Certain Latics supporters have taken to meditation already. (c)Audi Insperation
Unlike certain predecessors, you find it difficult to dislike Caldwell… if you’re a Wiganer, anyway – it’s part of the human condition to stick to those we know rather than meet new people. As we have discovered, the latter can be stressful and, in extreme cases, result in the loss of a team’s Championship status. Given these ‘extreme’ circumstances, this summer will be one of careful introspection, a meditative period to cleanse ourselves of the eye watering pain that can only be relieved by a release of tension.
Please, no fart jokes. At least, not yet.
Today’s heart-warming events, however, certainly eased some anxiety and provided one final sweet memory to contrast with so many bitter acquaintances of a misspent winter. And autumn. And most of spring.
Initially, the curse of the DW was only affecting the visitors. After Craig Mackail-Smith’s first minute sneak attack was nullified by Carson, Brighton took to defeating invisible goalkeepers on the touchline in Wigan-esque fashion. The real Latics, meanwhile, were building their half time possession collection to an impressive 61% as opposed to their opponents’ 40% – yeah, I think the guys working out the concourse stats lost their calculator.
Chow McClean is your house?
Step forward Wigan-born home debutant Tim Chow. To witness such a great headed finish amidst a season starved of goals, never mind those with the forehead, was an absolute thrill… and, on this occasion, no great surprise. With the hosts pressuring and populating the box Martinez-style (or should that be Caldwell style?), it seemed inevitable that one of Pennant’s danger-balls would be bundled home via arm, leg or errant balloon.
Following a brief scare when Carson tipped Beram Kayal’s 27th minute sneak attack onto the post, the home side hassled their way to a second opening in first half stoppage time. If only makeshift centre forward James McClean were slightly better at one-on-ones, Colonel Calds would have been breaking out his secret sauce for the half time chicken drumsticks.
The Seagulls regained their composure in time to pounce upon some questionable ‘zonal’ marking and pass home unchallenged from Danny Holla’s corner. Dale Stephens was the man to profit, but in reality it could have been any one of five or six men in red and black… not that the ecstatic North Stand ‘stewards’ in fluorescent Brighton shirts would have cared too much about exactly who or what forced the ball past a series of statuesque defenders.
And when Kazenga Lua Lua won a footrace with Harry Maguire to the ball, he was one well-placed side-foot away from stealing a ‘shock’ lead… but the ball rolled agonisingly past a relieved Carson’s left hand post. Oh, how the visitors’ fortunes had swung in the space of five short minutes!
Chow’s about that, then?
Speaking of fortunes, a certain Marc-Antoine would be jeered onto the pitch as the final half hour approached. Very few home supporters were booing, however, when he slid a cross through to a predatory James Perch, who forced the ball over the line Man City-style. At least, I believe it was Perch – certain sources suggested it may have been Billy Mckay, while the stadium announcer awarded it to Fortune. Though it is cruel to tempt a man starved of goals in such a manner, I doubt Marco will be too aggrieved.
The remaining ten minutes were a mixture of gratuitous time-wasting and bumbled Brighton attacks. On balance of play, that winning goal could have fallen to either team, but as it fell to Latics, the visitors were doomed to death by distribution. On such an inconsistent surface, who’d have thought it?
So, even if the summer does see a departure for half of Wigan’s starting XI, at least there are utility men like Tim Chow to make themselves the icons of League One. Let’s just hope they haven’t all been ‘released’ two weeks early…
Hey, remember this classic photo?