Robin Park Shopping Precinct, a wet and chilly January evening. Sparrows huddle for warmth under supermarket eaves as the wheeled metal machines below struggle to wake up.
Suddenly from the stony silence, a sharp blast of Krautrock in the vicinity of Stadium Way. Was ist das? Heads swivel 180 degrees as the silhouette of a large winged animal appears flapping on the horizon. Rubbing both disbelieving eyes, commuters stop dead in their icy tracks. C-could this really be… him?
Oh, yew betcha. Hurriedly donning their varifocals, witnesses gasp in awe as they recognise the formidable figure of Great King Yanic. He is almost Arnold-esque in his shades and leather jacket, ghetto blaster in hand, except for the fact he is riding… an ostrich?
But for all Yanic’s show-stealing escapades over the weekend, it’s heartening to see that such daytime soap events can still be upstaged by a good old-fashioned football match. Quite how do you follow a pulsating five-goal festivus at the DW Stadium? Why, with an even more entertaining six-goal spectacle, of course!
1-0 to the referee
Recovering from a stodgy start, Latics racked up a plethora of consecutive attempts on goal, all of them falling to a certain Bilbo ‘Never Gets Any Service’ Grigg. He was the main beneficiary of our dear referee’s considerable backside (no doubt the source of numerous puzzling decisions to come), which conspired to assist The Bearded One in defeating an obviously distracted George Long from eight yards.
Here’s the Sky Sports Snooze play-by-play: Latics have eight men forward. United intercept, but their through ball/clearance strikes the referee, and Jacobs can feed his man. Grigg-sly Adams volleys past Long and the Blades are thoroughly incensed, as you might expect.
This perceived injustice could have caused the visitors’ limbs to resemble lime jelly, but George Long remained sturdy, twice denying the rampant Griggster. One might even query whether it ought to have been 4-0 at half time, and hence 5-5 by the final whistle. Bah, this League One stuff is boring!
As it stood, witnesses would have to make do with Wigan’s ‘relatively unglamorous’ two goal lead at the break. Human lamp-post and part time giraffe hair stylist Haris Vuckic only had to turn his head but an inch to guide the ball inside the North Stand netting, such was the accuracy of Jason Pearce’s cross. Tasty.
Much more questionable officiating later…
And when Chris McCann picked the perfect time to thread Daniels’ rebounded effort through at least three pairs of legs for 3-0, a boring finish beckoned. A glorious, non-eventful 35 minutes of absolutely nothing happening.
But the fun (read: pain) was only beginning.
Sheffield United, much like the pitch, were becoming increasingly slippery. In an instant, Billy Sharp broke free from his burly security guard on the left, and Matt Done (rhymes with drone) was bundling the ball home at the near post.
Smelling weakness, United went kamikaze on that left wing. And they ought to become professional clairvoyants, because their extrasensory perception is amazing – a second goal would soon follow in much the same fashion, Billy Sharp heading past Jussi at the far post this time.
Fuming, Caldwell decided he would let no further Bladesmen pass into his penalty area. Or at least, that was the plan – the reality was altogether different. I’ll admit it was the right thing to (try and) do – the ‘invisible barrier’ tactic has been almost impenetrable at Fortress DW this season. Indeed, this is the first time we’ve seen it fail to any great extent.
Can we take another 3-2 now, please?
89 minutes played, and an agonising imperfection appears. Capitalising on another slip, United carry the momentum of 2,000 men towards Jussi’s goal, and my word, is it formidable. Not even a herd of wild Jason Pearces can stop Matt Done completing the comeback that sends woolly hats and polystyrene coffee cups flying in ES7.
Mercifully, the visitors decided they were relatively content with 3-3. Because at that moment they were utterly unstoppable, and as Latics lay dismantled, that winner seemed an inevitability.
But as it transpired, six (six? Six!) potential minutes of pain were actually six minutes of throw-in filler. That blast of gassy air you get from the first swig of your Coke bottle. That extra 30 minutes they added to the latest Star Wars film just so it would seem ‘a bit more epic’. (Not that I would know, as I haven’t seen it.)
Ordinarily, I would complain that we were robbed of an overall winner of this contest. But it is patently obvious that at 3-3, said winner could only have been the Blades, so I’ll cut short this sentence right here.
Oh yeah, and Yanic? Just a sideshow. He raced into the DW on Ozzy the Ostrich just after the hour mark, but everyone has already forgotten. Long live League One football!