Oh dear, I really do worry for my ailing season card - it has already been washed with my jeans, stuck behind the radiator and buried with the dog’s chew toy. I fear that swiping it through the DW turnstile three times in nine days might cause it to melt into my very hand, leaving a permanent ‘Progress With Unity’ tattoo on my left palm. (Not that that would necessarily be a bad thing, from a promotional point of view…)
It remained (barely) integrated as I entered the East Stand today, but you could almost hear the poor thing wheeze as plastic rubbed against plastic, its brittle constitution wavering under the considerable force of friction. The great credit card shredder in the sky (BSkyB?) beckoned.
However, just when it seemed the little ticket could not go on, his saviour literally came cascading from the heavens like rain. Mostly because it *was* rain, almost apologetically cooling him to a more comfortable temperature. “It’s my fault you’ll be here again on Tuesday night, so the least I can do is help your little friend.”
The scoreboard (and by all accounts the Sky Sports commentators) would suggest the first half belonged to the visitors – indeed, Dominic Samuel’s athletic 40 metre sprint ‘n’ shot had Jussi performing a mildly humiliating spider jump in his own six yard area. Though this effort struck some unfortunate part of the Finn’s considerable anatomy, it still had enough power to yank a couple of metal net pegs loose by its journey’s end.
However, the DW’s digital scoreboard rarely has room to elucidate in the same manner as an internet weblog. If that were a jumbo iPad up there at the back of the Andy Liddell Stand, it would certainly have explained in great detail (minutiae included) how Latics created enough crinkle cut opportunities to win a whole month’s worth of League One games in the space of 30 amazing minutes.
We need to get one of these installed. I hereby volunteer to operate it!
But we shall brush aside the goalside misdemeanours of Kellett, Pearce and Morgan, which are diluted to non-existence by events to follow. It might not have been as fluid or attractive as Arsenal 2010, but since the scoreboard is not intelligent enough to convey such things, should it matter?
Sky’s (alleged) humdrum, by-the-table punditry rolled agonisingly into the second period, which the Gills began exceptionally. Bradley Dack, who had earlier struck the inside of the post with an exquisite free kick, was now melting into midfield like a certain individual whose name is highlighted up there in the tab description and site banner.
When Rory Donnelly beat Donervon Daniels to Jussi’s back post, a simplistic header was all it took to stoke up a surprisingly vocal ‘top of the league’ celebration from 100 magnificent travelling Gillsmen. Two juicy great pieces of haddock for the visitors, one vinegary headache for Gary Codwell. Er, I meant Caldwell!
“Well, Bob, that’s the difference between championship chasers and a side floating aimlessly around the top six.”
Well, John, it’s hard to disagree with that statement. But there were still 30+ long minutes for the roles to be switched. (Helpful hint: the roles were switched in the final 30 minutes.)
I didn’t watch the game on Sky, incidentally.
One could suggest the introduction of Jordy Hiwula and Chris McCann facilitated such a switch. Gillingham had definitely tightened their nightwatchman-esque man-to-man patrol, but our aforementioned Great Scot was the one to snip the tripwires.
Somewhat appropriately, the hosts’ first goal was created on McCann’s wing. Granted, the assist came from a rasslin’ Michael Jacobs by the opposite post, but in the spirit of scoreboard summaries, we’ll attribute this one to the left wingmen. Billy Grigg enthusiastically blasted home from 2 yards with disproportionate force – after the short range misses in the first 45, you can never be too sure, I guess.
“No, Power, you shouldn’t be shooting from there,” came multiple (very loud) voices from ES7. Ironically, they were immediately followed by many more delighted screams when Stuart Nelson allowed the ball to pass clean through his greasy palms. If anyone asks, you have the DW scoreboard’s (and Nelson’s) permission to say it was a 30-yard screamer.
Arsene would make a fantastic T20 cricket umpire. “Wide ball…”
At that moment, the ghost of Arsene Wenger was briefly sighted flapping his gullwings on the West touchline, a premonitory apparition that suggested Sky Sports’ expectant audience might yet have their winner on this increasingly balmy (barmy?) Tuesd- er, Thursday night.
No need to call an exorcist… I didn’t see ‘im.
Though Latics’ momentum was halted by a couple of moderately serious leg injuries, six (yes, six) whole minutes of stoppage time offered just enough room to regain it.
And there was a certain inevitability to Craig Morgan’s 97th minute header. Just as it seemed Wigan would surely bow to the might of the league leaders elect after 55 minutes, and just as Charlie N’Zee’s curler would glance off the post and into the South Stand goal.
Not to be unnecessarily overconfident or big-headed, but as a football supporter there are those events you can predict with scary Acorah-style accuracy. The second Gillingham goal is one such example, and Latics’ winner was another. In such an unpredictable league, one might begin to question whether the XBOX joypads in that EA Sports burger van-cum-tent outside the East Stand really can control real life.
Match highlights courtesy @Laticsofficial (and Sky Sports!)