Wigan 1-0 Bradford: The Walking Deadman

Darren Deadman

Freddie Mercury’s Australian cousin rehearses his stand-up show.

Ordinarily, you’d think it unusual that a Football League referee has their own Wikipedia page. But in the case of Darren Deadman, the name alone makes him highly worthy of inclusion in any encyclopedia of questionable Rafa Benitez ‘facts’.

Not that Mr Deadman would approve. It is a sad reflection of modern footballing society that said Wikipedia entry exists to blow any minor misdemeanours to ‘three bookings for one player‘ proportions. Or maybe they’re trying to justify his inclusion in The Free Encyclopedia by padding out his bio with unnecessary fluff?

Whatever the case, I bet Darren regrets making that page now…

And then some smart-bottom small time internet weblogger comes along and makes him the subject of a match ‘report’ on the perceived ‘silliness’ of his name alone. In actuality, Deadman’s overall contribution to Bradford v Wigan was a pleasingly anonymous one – red cards ruin games, as they say.

Strike a post, there’s nothing to it

The two sides obviously agreed to split the pre-match blue Smarties 50-50, because each made an equally frenzied start. Cue cartoon sound effects as Craig Morgan’s legs spun far too quickly for the ball to keep up… but thankfully, Kyel Reid’s subsequent strike was expertly fielded by good old (young?) Jussi J.

Yanic Wildschut’s pins were operating at a much more comfortable speed, allowing him to strike a pose and strike the post from distance. Yanic, I know you’re in vogue at the moment, but be careful with those conical bras – they’ll poke your eyes out.

Back in Morgan Land, the Captain was still experiencing footing issues as late as the 21st minute, when he inadvertently caught Billy Clarke with one of his uncontrollable flailing limbs. The result: a yellow card, but luckily nothing more.

The remainder of the first 45 was characterised by cagey half-attempts and slanging matches between the North Stand and ES2. Not that they were making their own entertainment, nor had the contest become a glorified game of chicken. But those fans were certainly compensating for something, and rumour has it that a Dave’s Fried Chicken van was spotted pulling into Stadium Way on 42mins.

Colonel Sanders

No, Mr Sanders, I said *Dave’s* Fried Chicken. You can go back to sleep now.

Ah, games won in the first half are invariably boring anyway!

As the match entered a brave new half, Billy Clarke evidently wished to keep the intrigue rolling – he narrowly failed to make contact with Jamie Proctor’s probing ball across. But it was a sign that things were getting a bit more exciting overall.

At the least, you’d suggest that Vuckic on for Morsy is a forward thinking change, especially with over half an hour to play. Harry Fudge-Kitsch’s first task, should he choose to accept it: hit the target from a 22-yard free kick. (“This instructional piece of paper will self-destruct in 10 seconds.”)

As it happens, Vuckic’s attempt was comfortably saved. But it was another sign that things were getting a bit more exciting overall.

Certainly, the titular Darren Deadman was sighted fumbling at his collar as the crunching challenges arrived. They are no substitute for actual goals, but like that stuff they use as sugar substitute in ‘diet’ soft drinks, they’re better than that awful sparkling water that tastes like liquid buttersalt.

Hmm? Oh yeah, the game.

One could say it finally arrived on 80 minutes, when goalscoring superstar hero Haris Vuckic calmly rolled home. It was the prototypical Harry forward move – slither through one or more greased-up defenders before tucking the ball just beyond the post. Except this time, it was just inside the post, and Latics had the lead.

I forgot to mention that Craig Davies was also bolstering an 8-man Latics frontline by this point. He was on the pitch mere seconds before helping Vuckic with a handy assist… hah, and they say he does nothing!

Earlier, Bradford had risen to prominence with some Davies style pressing (colloquialism alert). But at 1-0 down, a triple Bantams sub signalled a new all-out attacking game to match Wigan’s ‘everyone’s an attacker, baby’ strategies ripped straight from the Caldwell textbook. (It was Martinez’s, but Gary scribbled out ‘Roberto’ and put his own name on the cover.)

You might think such tactics would lead to some Latics-West Ham 2011 style madness, but this wasn’t that type of game. Because hey, big scorelines are reserved for Wigan-Bradford rugby matches!

Hence, Harry’s strike was always going to be the winner, baby, and that’s no lie. 1-0 never fails to satisfy.

Second opinion

 

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