July 16, 2024

It is confirmed, my friends – Jesus is a Wiganer… still. Along with his fellow Amigos, the wonderfully named Jesus Seba has returned to represent Wigan Athletic in a post-season legends match at Ashton Town.

His first order of business as newly-appointed Official Club Saviour? Applying a swift elbow to Jakob Haugaard’s dodgiest shoulder… in a metaphorical sense, of course. Undoubtedly, this is the most political injury in the history of Wigan Athletic since Nick Powell had his ankle chewed by a French Mastiff at Bamfurlong Bridge polling station.

But Jakob’s is a necessary (and rather convenient) injury. Could this spell the end of the mirthsome Haugaardgate? Must small time Internet webloggers return to the seasons-old cliches of orange glucose drink and DW pitch moles?

…Maybe not, for there exist the final scraps of this season’s minutiae to examine.

Crossbar abuse

In the continued absence of Omar Bogle, or indeed any other fully fit striker to speak of, the hosts’ strategy remained predictable. It was, in the words of the great Wiganese poet Geoff Chorver: “let not a single opponent lay foot on thynne ball untylle the mightye Nick Powelle hath arrived.”

On that basis, the opening 45 was quite successful in that Latics’ opponents mustered precisely one shot. That came on the stroke of half time, when Craig Noone clipped David Perkins’ misguided clearance onto Matty Gilks’ unsuspecting crossbar.

Looking back, this snap strike might just have been the best chance of the game, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here. At this point in the narrative, a Stallone-esque escape to victory remained eminently possible – and didn’t a particularly vociferous East Stand just know it.

As long as Cardiff remained content to let Gabby Obertan lay the ball off to the energetic Ryan Tunnicliffe, that goal to trigger a raucous afternoon was a mere semblance of quality away. And as long as Jamie Hanson kept pinpointing Dan Burn at the back post with his low, hair-trimming corners, that crazy dream lingered.

Sadly, things changed.

The pilot light on Wigan’s boiler dimmed significantly after half an hour, coincidentally just as Luke Burke beat two defenders to lash tantalisingly wide from 25 yards.

Suddenly appointed a central midfield playmaker, David Perkins froze uncharacteristically. This was actually to check his lottery ticket support options, but as none of them were too attractive, he instead offered a hesitant attempt that cleared both the upright and crossbar. Woulda been totally worth the effort if it went in, though.

‘Saviour Subs’ Powell and Colclough arrived slightly earlier than usual (57 minutes), a reflection of Latics’ current plight. And right on cue, Mickey Jacobs bought the former a free kick just 200cm from the corner of Cardiff’s area.

However, Powellman’s carefully guided cross/shot/toe-poke thing found only a defender’s hefty boot and subsequently some delicate part of an unfortunate ball boy. This led to the 3,274th throw in of this stuttering contest… since half time.

The blindingly obvious solution, now Alex Bruce was also in tow?

Why, get big Danny Burn up front!

This ‘Burn Era’ wasn’t quite as profitable as expected, though, as Latics’ control completely broke down. And it was infectious – Matthew Connolly placed a perfect pass to Jonny Pigeon on the wing, whose touch was unfortunately lacking. In fact he flew out of play before the ball did.

Burn’s reign yielded precisely one shot on target – the home side’s first – and that came from a dancing Colclough. He drew Ben Amos (who gets a disturbingly late first mention here) into a smart save at the base of his left hand post on 83 minutes.

And that’s all, as Phil Collins might well have screamed over some low-fi metronome drum fills and twinkly pianos. In the absence of all other ideas, Latics’ long ball was a totally ineffective last laugh. Except it wasn’t really funny, because that was indeed all for the season. So you can shurrup now, Phil.

The final reckoning (sob)

Ordinarily with these match summaries, you can blame extreme bias for the lack of opposition column inches. But in the second half today, Cardiff genuinely didn’t threaten other than that time Aron Gunnarsson nodded past a hopping mad Gilks’ right hand post.

And that alone is telling. For my season review, can you just print the above paragraph? I’ve got to help Team Latics think up a sillier half time game for League One – the contestants have become too good at it. Ta!

Second opinion

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