Preston 1 Wigan 0: The Road to Preston Pier

“Oh, it was great fun heading down to Preston in the caravan each year – I loved the amusement arcades filled with barely functional Out Run cabinets missing their acceleration buttons. But most of all I enjoyed the never-ending beaches dotted with overzealous ice cream salesmen and geriatric donkey ride services.

“But all of that appears to have been swamped by a million tons of concrete and Brutalist bus station architecture. Gone are Street Fighter II and jaunty stallholders chewing their day-old cigarettes.”

I haven’t the heart to tell him he’s thinking of… er, Prestwick or something.
Preston, on the other hand, is the sporting capital of Lancashire, deep in the dales of Freddie ‘Outsize Clothing’ Flintoffland. And yes, I am talking about that new cricket-themed fun park they opened round the back of the David Nugent Stand.

But such frivolities are mere undercard jabfests compared to the main attraction, and that’s the short-awaited resumption of a minutes-old Lanchestrian rivalry: Prestatyn Town vs Witton Albion.

Wait… agh no, can I start again?

No do-overs, Woollyback. Do the report thing.

The visitors must wish they could have their first ten minutes back. Given another chance, they might have fielded the second goalkeeper required to prevent Jordan Hugill’s powerful patella punching the ball into an open corner of Bogdan’s awestruck goal. Because with kneecap control that exquisite, only underhand vagabondery can offer you half a chance. Fnar fnar!

And when Jordi Gomez was presented with a glittering opportunity to smash through for an immediate equaliser, he was expertly intercepted by… Dan Burn.

…Yes, Dan Burn does play for Wigan Athletic. But he was present in the Preston area to effect a superb goal-saving challenge, swiping the ball from J-Go’s very bootlaces! Legend has it they even awarded Preston’s Man of the Match bottle of Poundsavah champagne to Mr Burn(s).

In more positive news, the next 35 minutes were more palatable, if not profitable. Bilbobbin Grigg probably shouldn’t have plonked Gomez’s centimetre-accurate cross over Chris Maxwell’s grateful crossbar. But the mysterious disappearance of Jordi’s beard threw him off, and this certain goal instantly transformed into a certain screw-up.

But in all, it had been a thrilling half filled with goals, hearty challenges and excellent little passages of interplay. Or at least, it seemed magnificent in comparison to Saturday’s extreme blockfest with sprinkles of dull.

Half time sour quince and tomato juice.

If Bogdan hadn’t tipped Hugill’s carpet trimmer round the post, I think many Latics fans would have exploded with excitement – two goals in 50 minutes of football would surely have been too much to bear after Saturday’s ‘action’.

But enough hyperbole – it’s time to ditch these ‘Fulham goggles’!

Fulham goggles

“That’s the last time I get my goggles from the Blue Peter catalogue.”

For Latics, keeping the ball was easy enough. But scoring was as simple as a pouring strawberry sauce on a freshly packed 99 with Flake… if your arms were strapped to a plank of wood and that sauce dispenser was a fireman’s hose. In other words, it was pretty frelling hard.

Sorry, I believe you could also call that hyperbole.

After Nathan Byrne struck the post, 30 minutes of (sometimes) football slipped into a time vortex that led through a sea of football stickers and Premier League Pogs back to 1995. Long passes and crosses simply disappeared into deceptively thick Lancastrian air, lost forever like Cadbury’s Spira, Ultima Thule and Wigan Morrisons.

Actually, maybe that’s where Jordi’s beard went too! (The black hole, not Wigan Morrisons.)

The Grigg Breakfast

Will Grigg's on toast, your eggs are surely fried.

Will Grigg’s on toast, your eggs are surely fried.

It might have been twelve hours to breakfast time, but Preston were contentedly munching their evening treat of Will ‘Eggsy’ Grigg on toast. That notion, and the following picture, are courtesy your esteemed All Gone Latics head editor. Careful, Billy – that bread will only go straight to your thick neck.

And that concludes this commercial break. Now back to our odd little advertisement for the ‘intoxicating’ Friday Night Football.

And so, despite the referee’s not-so-secret love of Wigan Athletic FC and overwhelming desire to rebalance this contest, the visitors could not reciprocate.

Not even the might of Nick Powell and Craig Davies could burst clean through the awesome Preston wall of polystyrene (sometimes termed Prestonstyrene) – nobody could.

Perhaps the most fun was had by Preston fans, who delighted in retaining the ball at Wigan throw-ins. And a giddy Chris Maxwell, the ‘keeper who spent much of the game hurtling about near the half way line! Sometimes you have to make things more interesting for yourself, eh?

Such things don’t generally make for great television, however. Cameras, it would appear, are not the ally of Wigan Athletic.

But then I suppose that’s blatantly obvious. And when commentators state the obvious, it’s time to retire.

Second opinion

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