Wigan 0 Preston 0: The Final Poutdown

Are all the Wiganers gone now? Good, because I fear today is the day I am finally forced out of this town on a one-toothed mule named Yanic. Here goes…

As ever, King Warren is correct in his Coyle*-stirring. (*Rude word substituted for… something far more vulgar.)

At the risk of offending those with the names ‘Sir Ben’ and ‘Watson’, there is only one real cup final in this mint ball mining settlement. For conclusive proof, I challenge any Latistician to watch a grainy VHS of Wigan 5 Preston 0 and claim it isn’t the pinnacle of sports-related entertainment.

And for those who claim it never happened, here‘s ‘conclusive’ video proof. Ignore the obviously CGI Jason Roberts – it’s all genuine, I swear!

Jason Roberts penalty v Preston 2004

What happened next?

That not enough for you, dear reader? Then I point you in the direction of this weekend’s contest at the ‘Wembley of Lancashire’ (AKA the Wigan Athletic Stadium), a game that emulated a pulsating cup tie in all but name.

Fat guy stealing my blues

The enterprising Omar Bogle was a prominent figure in the opening quarter of an hour. As a brief introduction, he fought through three defenders and a miniature quagmire on the East Stand touchline to steal a shot at sweeper keeper Chris Maxwell’s near post.

But within minutes, the unfortunate Omar would become lost in his own penalty area. Completely bewildered, he inadvertently ‘attacked’ Callum Robinson in a wild lunge for the ghost of a ball. This latest addition brought the penalty count to:

Wigan Athletic 0 – 342 Everybody else in 2016/17

Step forward Matty Gilks, the latest Latics keeper to achieve cult status in a matter of minutes. How? Well, he became the umpteenth goalie to save a spot kick at the DW Stadium this season.

This, however, ranks far beyond than those keepers’ ‘inferior’ efforts – this was a breathtaking double save the likes of which your small time Internet weblogger had not witnessed at the DW Stadium since Uncle Davey built the thing brick by brick. But then I do have the memory of a lobotomised fly.

Speedy as a lizard, Gilks leapt to his left to push Jordan Hugill’s sidefoot right back at him. And for an encore, he executed an equally incredible pixel-perfect lunge in the opposite direction. Cue an instant legend status fanfare from the terraces, one caterwauling cacophony worthy of a goal itself.

Happiness Brazil

Sometimes saves are as good as goals.

Naughty boys don’t get penalties.

Not to force you back to your Saturday evening cat videos binge, but in a further 78 minutes of football, there would only be one more shot on target from either team. But that certainly couldn’t prevent four stands going wild over every minor completed pass and stolen throw in.

The players definitely weren’t about to stand still. As Latics ascended to domination, Sam ‘Lost Me Sweatband’ Morsy successfully navigated the obstacle course of defenders to execute a (deflected) snap shot.

Moments later, Omar Bogle crashed to penalty box turf under the weight of a particularly hefty challenge. Paul Huntington would have emulated the Bog in conceding a clumsy penalty… if only Chris Kavanagh agreed. Their chance of an equaliser batted away with the back of a referee’s hand, Latics’ quite possibly futile search for a spot kick this season continued.

Man, I’m getting nervous just writing about it.

Following an immediate Ben ‘Beatle Cut’ Pearson surprise effort, the hosts regained control as the second half reached acne-riddled puberty. Had Callum Connolly kept his strike below Dan Burn height, he would certainly have crashed it clean through a despairing Maxwell.

The next chance of note was the most significant of the half. Latics finally released a killer pass into the area that matters, and our very own Bogmaster General needed only slip the ball under the keeper for what would probably have been the points-pincher. But brave Greg Cunningham burst forth from hammerspace to risk life and appendages with a heroic block.

As Wigan Time approached, the occasion called for employee of the afternoon Ryan Tunnicliffe to blast home from the edge of the area… but as his last attempt crept just over the bar, there would be no Ben Watson moment this tense afternoon.

Overtime time?

At 95 minutes, the scoreboard read 0-0. Many confused fans remained long after the final whistle in the mistaken belief there would be extra time to decide who would climb those press box steps to receive the little tin idol.

But apparently, this was no cup final. Well, my scratchy throat and empty wallet suggest otherwise. Small time Internet webloggers probably shouldn’t buy everything on the menu from the new caterer’s concourse concession stand.

And for the record, Hollands pies are 100 times better than Galloways. There, I said it!

Second opinion

Issue 17 of the All Gone Latics fanzine will be on sale against Nottingham Forest on Saturday 25 February. You can buy online HERE.

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