Phew, I’m finally back at the ‘office’! Please excuse the cartoon-esque marks on my clothes and scruffiness of my hair.
Also apologies for the lateness of this ‘report’ – I have only just arrived back in Wigan after being rerouted via Rainford, Liverpool Lime Street, Southport and Preston train stations. That bridge collapse at Wigan North Western might have happened over two days ago, but as any GCSE exam paper writer knows, it takes 32 bricklayers seven days and 3,000 cups of watery Poundsavah brand tea to rebuild a wall 20ft high.
The cause of this bridge arch crumbling to the ground? Nope, it wasn’t a rampant John Madden filming yet another non-alcoholic beer commercial, but… Donervon Daniels. Yes, our supposedly ‘injured’ defensive powerhouse was *still* wildly celebrating Yanic’s goal against Huddersfield, so they ‘hid’ him in a disused subway under the bridge. But he smashed his way out, letting off an Ultimate Warrior scream as he thundered his way towards Trencherfield Mill with bricks in his hair and a glint in his eye.
Poor Joycey will have one heck of a weekend trying to cover that one up.
Oh Yanic Wildschut is running down the… centre?
It’s a real shame Daniels was splashing around at Wigan Pier this afternoon, as he might have been able to stop Tom Ince’s inch-accurate free kick colliding with Bradley Johnson’s sweet, sweet forehead. By which I mean to say the latter’s finish was a saccharine tastebud tingler – I won’t be taking a picture of his hairdo to my barber.
Craig Morgan might have escaped a yellow card for his foul on Matej Vidra, but he would pay the full pre-Christmas non-sale price of one free range Derby goal. Which, as I already alluded to, was as well-worked a technical set play as you’re liable to witness at the DW Stadium this year. Note that down in your exercise books for the end-of-season examination.
The visitors’ second opportunity was facilitated by Latics themselves, however. I won’t say who mistimed an extremely weak backpass to Jussi J, but the lurking Johnny Russell was a Finn’s fine fingernail from fast finishing this contest. Well, I’m not sure if JR’s poke goalwards was indeed saved, but it certainly crashed into the post on its way to relative safety. In the interests of morale, let’s just tell ourselves Jussi pushed it onto the woodwork.
The hosts’ panicking, fragmentary first half was summarised by David Perkins’ despairing headlong dive to claw the ball away from a breaking Ram. Yes, Perks did cradle the ball in his outstretched arm, and yes, he did resemble a ginger cat performing a doggy paddle and belly flop at the same time. And yes, it was an absolutely hilarious new entry in the never-ending Perkins yellow card saga.
“Don’t you dare mention the doggy paddle again…”
[End of tape. Please turn over.]
But all those misgivings dissolved to fine particles of moist December air as soon as the second half commenced. Warren Joyce’s (shorts-related?) team talk had evidently made men of Wigan Athletic FC, as the ball was now metal to the metaphorical magnets in their boots.
Luke ‘Gobot’ Garbutt suddenly transformed into a dead ball demon of soul-selling proportions, angling corner after perfect corner into Craig Morgan (with beard) at the edge of the 6-yard box. Encouraging.
A new attacking intent saw Will Grigg finally return to the South Stand penalty area, to the tune of a few scattered yelps of delight from the perimeters. With Derby lacking a final pass and affixed firmly to their own goal frame, this was the right time for a Latics equaliser.
Yanic Wildschut, now fielding in his more familiar left wing position, sensed the very same. Collecting the ball just inside his own half, he carried it to within five metres of the birds nesting in Scottie Carson’s fine figure of a beard, before warming the former floundering Latics favourite’s ice cool gloves.
And then, the big one. Stevie Warnock clipped a deadly spinner in to the rampaging Max Power, who planted a firm header onto the front of Carse’s unsuspecting crossbar. As the bearded wonder took two steps back, he swore he could hear it vibrate like a three-inch bass guitar string. Or maybe that noise was his ‘pet’ sparrows calling for their mother.
Note to RSPB representatives: he places the birds inside a cage before every game.
Little did we know with 20 to go that this would be the hosts’ final sight of goal. Though the Rams’ final third passing game never did return, it scarcely mattered – this solitary precious goal, in a battle of the profligate, proved as valuable as a Ben Watson winner in the final minutes of the FA Cu-
(I’ll cut him off here, readers, because everyone knows that nothing could ever be of equal value. — Ed.)
The game’s final moments were characterised by the foibles of Adam ‘ALF’ le Fondre and a thoroughly ‘smashed’ Warnock, who both lost their passing compass down that hole at the back of the glove compartment. You know, the one Latics’ three points were shoved into. And please don’t let me know if you find them, because they’ll be covered in fluffy half-sucked mint balls.
And please don’t mention karma rebalancing, because everyone knows those Huddersfield penalty shouts were frivolous. Weren’t they?!