Yes, dear reader, it’s true – Arsene ‘Penguin’ Wenger did finally flap his wings hard enough to take off. When asked about staying at Arsenal for another season, he squawked ‘can’t see it’, scooped up a crisp packet with his beak and flew straight to China.
And yes, it’s also very true that David Sharpe is opening a new Italian restaurant next to those spaghetti trees opposite the North Stand. According to the Wigan Morning Gazette, this ‘Mega Rigalettos’ will ‘bankroll two decades of Wigan Athletic loan men’.
Oh, you didn’t fall for any of that, did you? That’s because every Saturday has been a bad joke in Wigan Athletic’s April fool of a 2016-17 season. You half expect Sharpy to announce that it’s all been a massive hoax and this whole campaign is an elaborate wheeze to entertain small time Internet weblogs.
But rest assured, dear reader – everything that follows is a faithful representation of what happened at St James’ Park this afternoon. And yes, that’s the SJP in Newcastle as opposed to the one in London! What do you take me for, some sort of prankster?
‘Pies vs Pies… go!
About 1,200 travelling Ticsters must have backed Omar Bogle to be the first caught offside, because there was an unusual ripple of delight when he summoned the linesman’s fluttering flag on 2 minutes.
Having spent their moderate winnings on special Newcastle brand ‘singing medicine’, said supporters transformed the away enclosure into a bubble of blissful ignorance. After two whole weeks without a Latics game, they were more than willing to forget league position and revel in matchday minutiae.
Possibly as a result of their fans’ attitude, the visitors began with a wistful optimism not witnessed since the days of Cap’n ‘Kop Conqueror’ Caldwell (only about 5 months ago? — Ed). Thoughts of Anfield 2012 began to invade as Latics fired two corners towards Buxton and Burn, the latter of which proved… well, mildly troublesome.
In Diame now
To put that into ice cold perspective, it wasn’t quite as effective as Newcastle’s first corner, which Matty Gilks eagerly pawed away from his near post. Like a heavyweight boxer, he was back on his feet within seconds, sparring with an invisible man trying to pinch a towel from his goalmouth.
On that occasion, Dwight Gayle was the man denied. But within five minutes, this wrong was righted as Momo Diame caught Wigan’s back three with superpants at ankles. As the former Latic’s rippling cross punctured his opponents’ area, not even Dan ‘Superman’ Burn could prevent ‘DG’ cushioning home for his ten billionth goal of this loooong season.
In retaliation, Omar Bogle fought through various leg ailments to fashion a one-on-one effort at the otherwise anonymous ‘Castle ‘keep Karl Darlow. As an exhausted Bog hobbled away with a grimace, ref David Coote offered the sanctuary of a half time whistle.
Infinite Cadbury’s Creme Eggs
Predictably enough, the burdened Bogmaster was replaced by the… er… great Gilbeymaster as half #2 commenced with even more vigour than the first.
What’s that you want, a Latics goal from open play? Well, you can forget all about that.
…Except not, because there was one this afternoon, and that’s no elaborate prank. Honestly!
See, Mickey Jacobs really did achieve the semi-spectacular and… score a goal. At Magpie Park, no less. And how fun it was to see him calmly boink the ball over a sprawlin’ Darlow – suddenly, the world seemed a much prettier place filled with sparkling sunshine and infinite Cadbury’s Creme eggs dipped in hundreds and thousands. Welcome, dear reader, to 1-1 Land!
…But then Matt Ritchie overworked Matty Gilks, nodding his rebounded strike beyond the ‘keeper’s beached backside for 2-1. That brush with success was great while it lasted, eh lads?
In seriousness, however, the game had become much more competitive. For evidence, see Callum Connolly’s race from deepest right back to the Newcastle goal, which was threatened with a shot on target once more.
And as Newcastle sought to grind the game to a Warren Joyce halt, sub Colclough burst forth from the black and white police tape to present a creditable shot that crept just over the bar. At the very least, it certainly disturbed Darlow.
Even the officials were caught up in the excitement, so much so that they worked to keep the final ten minutes competitive. Did Buxton play British Bulldog (the wrestler, not the playground game) and powerslam Matt Ritchie to the canvas inside his own area? Did Coote play Arsene Wenger and selectively ‘miss’ this incident? And will I ever stop talking like the guy that delivered teasers at the end of the Batman TV show?
Please mark your answers on the paper provided and pass them to Mr Barrow to be marked. Your next examination is on Tuesday evening – join me back here at Mega Rigalettos just before 7:45pm.
…Sorry, I couldn’t help that reference. Beam me back?