“Goals for: 3. Goals against: 8. Points won: 1. Cups ripped from our snotty grasp: 2.”
Thus spake Latics’ resident statman, a look of mild disgust steadily encroaching upon his otherwise gentle features. 4-0 malletings in the Ben Watson Memorial Trophy can transform the most optimistic of supporters into miserable mopers in the short space of 90- nay, 60 minutes.
It has been pseudoscientifically proven that bogey teams are a myth, at least where empirically analysable results are concerned. But what about those teams you play on an almost daily basis? You know, the ones waiting with a cattle prod and mischievous grin when you arrive chez Stadion DW at 8 in the morning. Aren’t they the real bogeys?
Virus-free (read: Bury-free) for almost four months, Wigan Athletic had barely missed a day of work up to 27th February… but now the Shakers were back in (New)town.
Wilhelm Grigg was certainly a clump of mucus in the hairy Bury airway, drifting a very early cross onto Yanic Wildschut’s anticipant forehead. But on this occasion, the ball skewed away for what might have even been a throw in.
Ahh, if only it were the other way round and Yanic were floating one in to Grigg. Ideally, you’d want Wildschut to burgle a Bury defender just outside the area and chip the ball up for Griggsy to nod inches past the keeper. Yeah, that would be just perfect.
And while we’re at it, I’d like Ryan Colclough to rifle a 20-yard shin-splinter past 8 pairs of exposed legs into Ian Lawlor’s extreme bottom right corner! Oooh, such is the stuff of painkiller-addled fever dreams.
But in a scarcely believable opening 25 minutes, this audacious wish list became eminently tangible.
Colonel Caldwell Bogey
Sure enough, Grigg busted his so-called goal ‘drought’ clean in two with an expert forehead that evaded all 6ft 4in of the towering Bury goalie.
And just minutes later, Colclough slipped through a brace of hesitant Burymen on his wild and windy way towards the opposition penalty area, whose pure air he pierced so callously with a rasping drive. Less than ten minutes played, and 2-0 was a cold, hard reality.
As if that weren’t enough, Latics became the beneficiaries of a further windfall as a clattering of legs saw Grigg put teeth to grass just 8 yards from Lawlor’s goalmouth. A flutter of the linesman’s flag signalled a penalty kick, and ref Scott Duncan felt obliged to award the pen.
Likewise, Wilburn Grigg felt obliged to send the keeper flying in all the wrong directions… at the same time.
Amazingly, 3-0 it stayed until half time oranges. But for the greasiest of slippery balls trickling through his legs, Grigg would have secured that elusive first half hat trick. And but for Jussi twice spreading himself as wide as three fat lorries, the visitors would have clawed one back to make it 5-2. *That* double save was arguably the moment of the match.
Bury did bother Jussi once more as the second half came to a boil, the Finn executing an inch-perfect reaction save at his near post. But the contest soon simmered down to a comfortable, blue and white coloured temperature, much to the detriment of Bury’s woodwork.
Wilhelmina Grigg was first to abuse the crossbar, firing against its exposed underside with the confidence of a hat trick hero. No goal was forthcoming, however, as the ball fell vertically back into the field of play… at least according to the West Stand linesman. And I think we can trust him.
Max Power looked even more certain to break through the ‘dangerous’ 3-0 scoreline, but only succeeded in breaking the already wounded woodwork. A real shame, as the studious Ryan Colclough deserved an assist for his work on the right hand side.
But the remainder of the game – yes, all 30 minutes – fell into a safe, dependable groove as Latics assumed total control of the ball. Said groove was occasionally punctuated by the odd Max Power strike from distance, but Lawlor remained on hand to neutralise any potential threat. Smooth, steady stuff.
Messrs. Wildschut and Grigg finished the afternoon resting on the warm and luxurious DW bench, breaking open a fresh Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and bottle of Yazoo from the West Stand refectory. And such treats were richly earned.
Good news, bad news
Well, it would appear that the bogey is now on the other finger.
But the good news for Bury fans is that Wigan aren’t scheduled to play the Shakers again this season. The bad news is that the Football League are hastily arranging a new 17-legged cup competition contested only by said teams in the month of March 2016.
Oh yes, and I forgot about the inevitable Latics-Shakers playoff tie to come! Best use this next week to stock up on Kleenex, because those crusty bogeys are being cultivated at the very moment I type.
I, er… can’t wait.