Oh, haven’t you noticed Wigan town centre has become more… colourful lately?
Wigan Council are anticipating Latics’ promotion party by pasting large circular stickers to pavements around the town’s shopping district. The concept might *sound* stupid, and that’s probably why they make me chortle (causing me to look like a crazed hyena as I walk to Wigan North Western).
But when you think about it, this is a much better method of advertising than billboards. Why? Well, because it rains pretty much every day in Wigan, one tends to look down at the ground rather than up at walls.
And for the days when it isn’t hosing down, there’s always that ten thousand foot banner adorning the Grand Arcade entrance. The one with Max Power relishing the last remnants of his fart for all they are worth, his team-mates understandably disinterested.
But I’d advise against celebrating with a triumphant trump of your own just yet, as while games remain, so does the possibility of a Jordan Speith-esque meltdown. Also, you may get funny looks from people on the train.
The good part.
On a cool afternoon, the Keepmoat was doused with a touch of April snow that burned away in time for a kickoff complemented by pastel blue skies. And the opening stages were equally picturesque, with both sides painting ornate popup book passing movements inside each others’ halves.
But Latics’ early endeavour gave way to creeping lethargy and, subsequently, Rovers domination. Momentarily, Gary McSheffrey burst clean through the visitors’ defence before rifling a trifle past Jussi’s decidedly wobbly goalpost. The fidgeting Finn’s limbs might also have become jelly-like for a second or two there.
Recognising a slight enervation, Captain Caldwell acted quickly. Sensing the attentions of a large pointing hand, Conor McAleny might have thought he’d won the lottery… but instead, he lost his place to Michael Jacobs. To say he was displeased with this substitution would be an understatement, but he may well have cheered up sixty seconds later.
It was a tactical masterstroke. Still in the midst of yanking up his socks, the man they affectionately call Cracker-keks instigated an instant riposte, setting Yanic Wildschut free for a 40-yard gallop. As ever, Will Parachute-Payments Grigg was present in the centre, and as ever, the ball came to rest within the goal netting.
Largely subdued for the last half an hour, Latics’ substantial away following in the (certainly not Preston) North End suddenly exploded in a chorus of the Will Grigg song that improves the lukewarm Gala ‘smash hit‘ considerably.
The bad part.
However, dazzling Donny’s response was supreme. Their two goals in four minutes bore certain ominous similarities – not only were they finished by Andy Butler, but they both came from McSheffrey corners. As George W Bush might have said, fool me once, shame on… errr, Leon Barnett? Yeah, when all else fails, blame him…
That was meant to be satire, though the bench-dwelling Craig Morgan *was* ordered to warm up.
When a third set piece was nodded narrowly over by a marauding McSheffrey, the reprieved Latics suddenly became reinvigorated. Could it be one of those spells that can totally devastate sides and finish the game well before its allocated time is exhausted? An extraordinary ten minutes that’s enough to win not one, but three League One matches?
Sadly not. Sam Morsy and Yanic Wildschut’s hopeful pokes goalward were both blown wide on a gentle Yorkshire breeze, and before you could move a finger to refresh the Walsall and Burton scores, the danger was clear.
And with two minutes to play, the game was also gone. In sacrificing himself to save a Doncaster third, the scrambling David Perkins unwittingly earned them a penalty… and a red card in the process. And after he sprinted so far, too! He will ban himself from the treadmill as punishment.
Eventually, it was time to take that pen. The infamous Andy ‘Too Good To Be True’ Williams went centre, the hapless Jussi J went elsewhere. The scoreboard went to 3-1, and Latics went home with Caldwell’s little pieces of paper stuffed up their throbbing jacksies.
The good fart.
It has been a worrying staple, that phrase: “it’s a good job they’re rubbish”. But that definitely does not describe the delightful Doncaster, who now have a very good chance of securing automatic promoti-
What’s that you say, they’re still struggling for League One survival? Hey, did I remember to tell you that league position means nothing at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon… again?
This ain’t done, Muttley. Get the popcorn!