June 16, 2024


The bloke on the left is actually Nick Powell smuggling Coyle’s Irn Bru stash from the team coach. (c)Johnlp

Long ago, when I was still entombed in the educational institutions’ impenetrable iron sarcophagus, I recall lurking around the social sciences noticeboard and reading an example question for their A-Level test paper. My memory cells are the equivalent of an Amstrad CPC after you’ve flicked the off switch (i.e. non-existent), but I think it was along the lines of “try to explain the psychology of home advantage.” Those who answered ‘it is unexplainable’ went on to become football managers.

It’s just one of those things that, like, you can’t explain, maaan! Why is Wigan’s away form worse than my eventual examination results, and why is there a pink rabbit on your shoulder? Heehee…

There was one minute dollop of jam to sweeten the otherwise bitter gruel, however – prior to today’s encounter, Latics boasted the quite unbelievable record of never losing to Yeovil Town. Now before you get all excited, remind yourself of the fact their hosts could claim the same, seeing as the two sides had never drawn swords in their long and distinguished histories. Nonetheless, it was an anorak-pleasing nugget of fun ahead of a clash billed ‘Achieve By Unity meets Progress With Unity’… by nobody.

Oh dear, I shouldn’t have eaten that okroshka neat…

Those who attest ‘the table never lies’ evidently need to conduct more research into the subject, for 24th-placed Yeovil far outplayed their 10th-placed opponents with a busy, highly competitive playing style for the opening half an hour. Or maybe that exotic Russian cuisine was still working its nefarious way through the Wigan first XI’s collective intestines? I hope they had more than one cubicle in the toilet dressing room.

You couldn’t see my expression then, but I winced as I wrote that last paragraph. Owen Coyle’s face also had that ‘needtheloo’ look as the hosts orchestrated proceedings, exhibiting animal-like reactions to snatch a huge slice of that possession pie (chart) from the paws of a relatively lethargic Latics.

The wonderfully-named Paddy Madden (relation to American footballer John, perhaps?) proved Lee Nicholls’ greatest perturbance, almost defeating him from distance twice in the space of ten minutes. Heheh, in some senses it must have been… Maddening. Groan.

Latics jet into Yeovil
Aha! Now what time d’you call this, eh?

Ahem. But greater opportunities would fall to Wigan, whose threat finally arrived on the 12:45 flight from Kazan just before half time. Coyle utilised what little remained of his vocal chords to berate the pilot, while Ayling and McAllister did superbly to deny McManaman twice before Albrighton struck the crossbar to resume the two-team contest. Someone on the concourse may or may not have said, “oh, that’s right, Wigan Athletic were supposed to be playing this afternoon!”

Pantomime season already? No it isn’t. (Yes it is!)

Mike Pollitt save
Man of the Match: Mike Pollitt for winning his crossbar challenge

If the first half was largely devoid of entertainment, Mike Pollitt provided the travelling support with some half time theatre, winning his own personal crossbar challenge to pantomime-style cheers. As Polly took a bow upon reception of an invisible magnum of champagne, play resumed for a slightly more action-packed second half.

Emmerson Boyce almost toed home before Albrighton went close again to ensure that possession pie reached near parity once more. As Shotton witnessed an effort valiantly cleared just inches from the line, those waiting on a no-score draw for their Pools coupon let out an audible sigh, disturbing the cat’s Sunday early evening slumber.

Yeovil weren’t done yet, however, so anyone sticking a fork in them would be mildly disappointed. As will you after reading that awful ‘joke’. But Lee Nicholls parried smartly to provide the perfect excuse to change subject. Coyle momentarily nipped off for some ice cream to soothe his ailing cords.

14 hours. The equivalent of a trip from Standish to Wigan town centre in rush hour, or maybe a Pink Floyd hit single. That’s allegedly how long it had been since Wigan last scored away from home, and I had to check to see if it was true. In the end I was unable to determine the authenticity of such a shocking statistic, but I believe Marc-Antoine Fortune’s 78th-minute strike is still such a rare occurrence that it warrants the final word in this article. As tribute, I shall finish it here and resume hostilities at Wednesday’s podcast.

Second opinion

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