June 20, 2024

"Old Mr Wigan Athletic lives there. Legend has it he's evolved into an ogre." (c)New York Times

"Old Mr Wigan Athletic lives there. Legend has it he's evolved into an ogre." (c)New York Times
“Old Mr Wigan Athletic lives there. Legend has it he’s evolved into an ogre.” (c)New York Times

Oh, didn’t you hear? Wigan Athletic has become reclusive now. The newspapers no longer write about it, television presenters barely mention it and not even regional radio stations seem to care about our FA Cup heroes of 2013. There can be only one reason – the club has retreated to its mud hut for an extended period of quiet contemplation. Do not approach it, for it may become angry and attack like the wild, world-weary beast it has devolved into!

I find there is a certain peacefulness to League One ‘obscurity’. There are no silly blogs writing silly stories about sacks of spuds or second hand opinions telling you how to think. Once more, we are all free to formulate our own judgements based on the football we witness away from the newsprint. No, really – it’s fine to make up your own mind! Don’t worry, they‘re all far too interested in Skenderbeu Korce vs Dinamo Zagreb to care.

Sometimes it isn’t such a bad thing to shun the spotlight – one can only imagine the difficulty of daily life with an army of men in shirts and sweaters instructing people how to think about you, especially when it goes wrong. Your weaknesses are there for 23 League One teams to poke and prod with a cheap supermarket brand ballpoint pen.

But this was a game you’d most certainly want to broadcast to the world, because for once, everything went perfectly.

Wait… er, hold on a sec.

Sorry about that, I needed to consult my trusty Football Blogger’s Bible because I had genuinely forgotten what to do in these situations. Latics 4 Birmingham 0 is ancient history at this point, since last evening’s starting lineup is totally unrecognisable from that day’s.

Locked safely inside a secluded DW Stadium, the reclusive Wigan silently set about their usual routine… but it wasn’t long before Scunthorpe’s peace was broken.

The hosts’ domination was total from the moment Will Grigg converted a self-made penalty with the nonchalance of a 25-goal-a-season striker. Unlike on Sunday, this particular referee had a soft spot for Latics, who greatly benefited from his penchant for a good, honest League One tackle. However, since Jack King was tugging on Grigg’s shirt, a third minute Latics lead was rich reward.

Hit the bar
No, guys, that’s not what I meant by ‘hit the bar’…

This set the tone for an evening of Scunthorpe pain. Paddy Madden and Stephen Dawson executed a couple of hopeful efforts before the ten minute mark, but they were to be the visitors’ only real chances of the entire night as Latics assumed complete control. Grigg and newfound strike partner Craig Davies were pushing so hard on the cling film barrier that it was bound to break… and before long, it surely did.

Imposing Monserratian Donervan Daniels was the beneficiary of a half-cleared free kick, sidefooting through Joe Anyon with a ker-chinnng to exchange Latics’ hefty possession for a second goal just before the half hour. Oooh, if only it were as easy as visiting a goal bank, Uncle Dave might have bought us a few Premier League trophies before now…

And the hosts were collecting more zero-filled cheques to cash. Following Davies’ well saved attempt, Michael Jacobs volleyed neatly onto the top of the North Stand bar — that’s the crossbar, not the sweet-smelling* concession area. (*Your mileage may vary.)

The Scunthorpe problem

There is nothing funny about the name Scunthorpe, so this picture has no relevance. Credit: TVForum.co.uk
There is nothing funny about the name Scunthorpe, so this picture has no relevance. Credit: TVForum.co.uk

With the Iron’s challenge fading to a series of marginally misplaced midfield passes, Latics could scoop up a third shiny gold coin from the collection tray. Craig Davies was rewarded with a polite clap as he retreated to the subs bench – he had, after all, just defeated Anyon in a one-on-one for the title of Game Over.

Wigan’s slow, deliberate passing spells had built their possession to a mighty 60%, and as they closed out the game, that percentage was only to get larger. Even Chris McCann was confidently stepping into midfield with a couple of ‘I’m actually a striker, me’ bursts through the centre – though he tripped over a blade of grass on both occasions, it was certainly worth the effort to earn himself a piece of the applause.

750 words is not enough to praise each of the individual performances yesterday evening, but JWAW’s man of the match award must go to a particular Latics player whose name I neglected to note down. When he thought nobody was looking, he quickly rubbed away the ref’s shaving foam used to mark the location of a free kick, then rolled the ball forward an extra yard. This would have been funny in itself, but a bloke sat behind me almost died laughing when said Latics player complained that the wall wasn’t a full ten yards…

Pity there were no cameras or journalists there to report on that, eh?

Match highlights courtesy @Laticsofficial

Second opinion

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