June 18, 2024
Madejski Stadium Reading

(c)Dan Taylor

Yellow curry
Preparing a Christmas curry. Yellow, of course (c)Miia Ranta

In the past, we at the PWU Podcast have been accused of misreporting in the interests of bias and humour, and rightly so. ‘Play-by-play’ parrots are the past, opinionated nonsense shall soon be the accepted norm and the Daily Sport (namecheck not entirely intentional) will overtake the Mail as the discerning Briton’s mainstream media outlet of choice.

However, I only wish we were joking about those yellow cards picked up during Wednesday’s aborted scuba expedition. And yes, I shall continue to wring that cringeworthy metaphor as if it were Shotton’s long throw towel.

But while James McClean’s goal is viciously expunged from the record, Scott Carson and James McArthur’s bookings are not. Hypothetically, this offers the potential for an infinite number of yellow cards over the course of a season, a scenario I put to the test in my copy of Football Manager 2013 for the Sega Mega Drive before this afternoon’s game. If you’d like to see the results, I will email you my Excel spreadsheet which you can print off and use as a festive drinks coaster.

I’m kidding – that football management simulator is only available for the Mega Drive in Russia. Additionally, I am still of the opinion that a ‘spreadsheet’ is a tarpaulin covered in best butter for use in It’s A Knockout or back alley Greco-Roman wrestling competitions.

JUST IN: Time for Xmas dinner?

Sinking ship
Antarctic conditions: “Johnson, why must you insist on bringing that 50-foot Polo mint with you on *every* expedition?”

Though decidedly damp, today’s climactic conditions in Reading weren’t quite of abandonment proportions. In any case, I doubt the referee would have remained on Wigan Christmas card lists (for 2014, of course, as the Royal Mail ‘last post’ date has long since passed) had he called off the game after a dozen minutes. You see, Latics had already accumulated an ominous and ultimately unassailable two goal lead.

New dad McClean created the first, setting up fellow MacMan Chris McCann to find the hole from 12 yards. In such slippery conditions and with an undulating surface to account for, Tiger Woods would have been proud. If he cared about ‘big ball’ sports in the slightest, which he probably doesn’t. (“Sawker?”)

Wigan would return from their very next voyage into the Antarctic (AKA Reading’s half) clutching another prize catch, this kill credited to Nick Powell. Should keeper McCarthy (no, not that one) have done better? Should someone have cheekily tapped the Man U man’s ankle? And should I have started thawing out the Christmas Day turkey this afternoon? I would consult Delia’s book, but I seem to have misplaced it. Come on, where arrrre youuu? Let’s be ‘aving you etc.

The half played out in broadly similar fashion to that one Bolton game. Having plumped up a two-goal cushion, Latics witnessed their opposition attempt in vain to steal a goal like a kid swiping more pigs in blankets from the dinner table. However, the returning Ali Al Habsi (yay!) baulked Reading’s main effort by pushing custard in their faces… and making a smart save. *Ahem*

BREAKING: Sharp’s clone addiction

Madejski Stadium Reading
This isn’t a picture from the game, but pretend it is. (c)Dan Taylor

McManaman and Powell failed to return from the dressing room for the second half, Will Keane and Jordi Gomez appearing in their place. In a stroke of bad planning/fortune, Billy Sharp also remained in the pub when his host body misguided a penalty kick over Al Habsi’s crossbar. That’s the last time he sends a lesser clone out to work for him, especially since this whistle-blowing exposé on the extent of the fußball-doppelgänger problem. Did you ever see The Sixth Day with Arnold Schwarzenegger? (Don’t.)

That first goal would elude the increasingly effective hosts no longer, however. Pavel Pogrebnyak finally provided the piece of accomplished finishing his side required, and it was the start of an extended period of Reading pressure.

Al Habsi conjured the FA Cup spirit of 2013 (it isn’t 2014 yet, is it? — Ed) to deny Pograbnyak once more as the inevitable fatigue of Wednesday’s travails began to shine through. An injured Ben Watson was not afforded the luxury of a substitution as both sides had already made all three. “Come on Ben, just another ten minutes and you can have Boxing Day off!” Of course, he has no choice in the matter since he received a fifth booking of the season.

Through effective time wasting and some trademark Jordi Gomez acrobatics, however, the remaining six minutes of stoppage time were soon complete. All traces of Irn Bru long since washed away, the post-Europa dream of a top half finish (wait, what?) remains a distinct possibility. Finally, everything’s comin’ up Rosler!

SHOCK! Second opinion

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