June 18, 2024
4-player chess

Football is like Xtreme Chess (c)Frank Sölter

Erm... aha, "waiting"!
Can I have two from the top please, Carol? Bah, I’m rubbish at this game.

Now let’s take a look at my schedule for today. Hmm, let’s see – breakfast time, dinner time… aha, Wigan Time again!

March’s upcoming gauntlet of fixtures may prove a logistical nightmare, especially since every passing week seems to bring a new injury worry. But for us Latics addicts, I can think of nothing better than sinking into a fat armchair with a hot beverage to reminisce over yet another engrossing Championship fixture. Maybe it’s the recent run of victories talking, but Wigan Time is generally a happy time.

Whoops, not sure what came over me there – that was far too positive a comment for this sarcastic website. From here on in, please feel free to administer a quick palm to my face should we drift into happy clapper territory once again.

Just hold on a sec while I grab my motorbike helmet.

Mff mff mufuff… *Removes helmet*

Hmm, maybe it wasn’t a good idea to deliver this report wearing that… and forget the fact I am actually typing and not speaking, so I have no idea why my words were muffled. Okay, I can sit here and poke holes in my own jokes all day, but this pulsating afternoon deserves far more than my usual second-rate ‘comedy’ routine.

Gherkin bike
Ipswich keeper Dean Gerken gets ‘on his bike’ for McClean’s goal (groan) (c)Lienhard Schulz

Indeed, the first half was action-packed, at least in terms of goals. Ipswich were first to etch their name into the visitors’ book, which was curious as they were the home side. But ‘Pinball Wizard‘ Tommy Smith hurriedly snatched the pen from its holster before Latics could even set eyes upon it, and the hosts swung Gareth’s Most Important Stat™ in their favour. The Macclesfield-born New Zealand international consolidated his side’s dominance, signing off an official goalmouth scramble with a flourish.

It took a mere two minutes for Wigan to fetch the correction fluid, however, as Emmerson Boyce was to initiate the perfect equalisation strategy. Demon goalscorer Marc-Antoine Fortune passed the parcel to James McClean, who punished the Tractor Boys for their crimes (i.e. daring to score) against his club. The sentence: one goal to Wigan Athletic, 22 minutes. Judge David ‘Baldasa’ Coote removed his periwig to quiet chuckles.

Middlegame exchange

Latics’ speedy fightback brought balance to this contest, not only in the scorebook but the stats report as well. We entered a fallow period of chess-like strategic brow-furrowing, the visitors constructing a tactical masterplan for the remainder of the half. And it was soon to come into full effect.

Ever had one of those dreams where everyone freezes in place, yet you remain fully mobile? Well, Wigan’s second goal must have felt a bit like that. Time stood still as man of the moment Jordi Gomez delivered a cross for Leon Barnett to nod home from extremely close range, a finish reminiscent of Grant Holt in his prime. Hey, whatever happened to that guy? And why did everyone stop to admire a topless supporter on the terraces?

4-player chess
Football is like Xtreme Chess, only without the wooden figures. (c)Frank Sölter

The chess match resumed, though I’m unsure whether some players thought they were playing draughts, as not much happened for about half an hour. Leon Barnett and Jordi Gomez almost re-enacted Wigan’s second goal on 68, but by and large, both sides engaged themselves by blocking each others’ pawns. One for all you board game fans, that one.

Then, mini-disaster. The much-mentioned Barnett was soon hobbling back to the changing rooms, to be replaced by Rob Kiernan. Gah, looks like we’ll be installing extra seating space in the DW doctors surgery – ooh, I wonder if they have one of those pie vending machines?

(Glances over at motorbike helmet)

But, erm, back to the game. Any frowns were soon wiped clean from Latics faces as the visitors were cheered by a third, and ultimately winning, strike. Mr McClean could not muster a deserved goal on Wednesday, but thankfully his inevitable strike rolled over to this afternoon, paying exactly double. Fortune passed the parcel to James McClean, who punished Ipswich for their cr- hey, where have I heard this before?

Anyway, the upshot was a Wigan Athletic victory –their eighth in as many games– and a welcome ticket to a play-off place. Quick, stop the Championship season now so we can secure that and concentrate on defending the FA Cup!

Second opinion

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