Birmingham 0 Wigan 1: The best medicine

Oh, for a season without disruption. Oh, for Championship Manager style outcomes calculated using the raw skill data of individual players. Oh, for robotic super referees that make hypercorrect decisions 100.2% of the time.

Actually, screw all that – it would be as boring as Michael McIntyre’s ‘soccer gossip’ page on Ceefax. Which they cancelled when the editor fell asleep on his keyboard and replaced the whole column with ‘UIOAHHHH’.

There is never a good time for your retina to become detached, but this is surely the unluckiest. Or should we say luckiest, since King Joyce could not properly witness Saturday’s sorry excuse for a cockfight? For his sanity, I should hope it looked wonderful through his good eye.

…I’d also like to thank Twitter for that joke. And Facebook. And MySpace. And Michael McIntyre.

In all seriousness, we wish King J a speedy recovery from everything that ails him. Sir, your people need you more than ever!

Whatever you do, don’t look at the table.

Place thyself in Prince Barrow’s position: when naught but victory shall suffice, and with virtual relegation staring you square in the dangling Google Hangouts, what are your options?

Well, don’t forget about Yanic II, otherwise known as Gabby Obertan. Though a touch rusty, he can feasibly slap an L-plate on that ostrich and career down the left wing like an alcopop fuelled teenager.

And that’s not to mention Dan Burn. Your attackers’ intentions might be telegraphed by the half-dozen dodgy Blackburn-Latics VHS recordings available on theboglebay.com, but what about your defenders’ surprise attacks?

Hipster video

No, not that VHS! Though we might as well watch it now we’ve rented it, you know.

It was the perfect crime. Mickey Jacobs chipped a shock free kick into Birmingham’s area, forcing David Davis to concede a fatal corner kick.

And from that corner, Jamie Hanson pretended to aim for Obertan when he was in fact constructing a more complicated narrative – his eyes were on a predatory Burn at the back post. Certain as chicken eggs is chicken eggs, the ball squeezed through for everyone’s favourite auxiliary attacker to scramble beyond Tomasz Kuszczak in the Brum goal.

Yeah, a certainty that doesn’t involve conceding. Refreshing, ain’t it just?

For the first time in a long while, Latics were seizing control of a football match, and Burn was the willing protagonist. Pilfering possession somewhere around the halfway mark, he amazed Omar Bogle with a genuine midfielder’s pass… even if it was so astonishing that the Bogmaster could not react in time to slip the ball past Kuszczak.

Our hero even moonlighted as a highly competent centre back, bashing two potentially pivotal balls far from a beaming Matty Gilks’ penalty area before the 45 were exhausted. Latics, nay Dan Burn, had won the half.

But it was only a half… yet.

Well done. Now do it again… five times!

Steady on, there was only one more half on the night.

Birmingham were suddenly propelled by intense rage; half time jeers tightened their nerves and heightened their determination. But then, as a Latics supporter you’ve witnessed enough of those jeers to make yourself an even bigger expert than I.

Craig Gardner’s free kick foot was given plenty of exercise as the hosts drew a selection of fouls around the Wigan Athletic penalty area. Under such pressure even Dan Burn began to crumble, clumsily clattering Lukas Jutkiewicz to greasy turf. Thus began the grimace-inducing journey from 70 to 90 minutes.

However, that precious lead remained intact for the time being. Leaving Callum Connolly in his wake, Che Adams lashed into the safety of terracing… to the great relief of many a travelling Latistician.

As those nerve-wracking Birmingham free kicks continued to materialise, sub Frei Koyunluat assumed the role of primary set piece man. Mercifully, his inaugural effort also slid over the slippery side of a quivering crossbar, offering a few more seconds of gentle relief.

You know things are tight when small time Internet webloggers run dry of witty metaphors…

Nail biting

Take your mother’s advice and don’t bite them.

But if that made your knees wobble, it has nothing on the final three minutes of stoppage time. Truthfully, the hosts didn’t create much in this period, but that mattered little – the enormity of this situation made those final 270 seconds headache-inducing.

Finally, after goodness knows how long, the release of the full time whistle. Latics might have won the wrong game altogether, but they’ll take those three points deep fried with a side of ketchup and fries.

(…Sorry, I can’t help thinking about Saturday.)

Anyway, you can tell Old Father Relegation to postpone his visit for four more days at the very least.

Second opinion

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