Well, ain’t that just a bummer? I missed this entire game as I was stuck at Westhoughton railway station seven whole hours waiting for a train to stop. I would even have endured a crummy one with no doors and a toothless gentleman requesting spare change (see above image), but nope. Funny, I always took ‘rail strikes‘ to mean ‘bored kids hitting tracks with sticks’… but apparently that’s not always a correct assumption.
Just kidding! I always make the entire 11,200-metre journey from my house in Darkest Bolton to the DW Stadium on foot.
Just kidding! In actuality, I don’t have any feet. In fact I am a pickled brain inside a jar at the back of David Sharpe’s office.
Just kidding! Sharpy sold his office to fund the Ipswich Beamback. He now operates out of a small toolshed he erected in bushes opposite the West Stand ticket office.
Just kid- oh, wait – I only wish that were a cruel joke.
But seriously, I did watch this game. It’s true, honest!
Don’t be fooled by that extravagant scoreline – behind the scoreboard’s dying pixels lay a contest that exhibited all other stereotypes of a ‘zombie’ zone showdown. With both sides on the very edge of the Championship, it was truly The Battle of the Walking Dead (copyright AGL 2017).
Nowhere was this better exemplified than the Jakob Haugaard slip that released a charging Danny Ward free on goal. Luckily for Latics, on this day they were up against the only side in this division you might begin to class as worse than them. And fortunately enough, said striker fulfilled that stereotype by falling flat on his backside as the ball flew towards Trencherfield Mill.
The visitors’ next attempt was slightly more successful in that it found the target, even if Haugaard took this opportunity to practice his low slip catching. “How bad must you be, we nearly scored,” came a jolly chant from behind the Rotherham goal as Joe Newell steered this one into the big man’s gloves.
However, there were no cheerful faces in the East Stand when Ward guided Darnell Fisher’s ball past the Latics keeper. Quite the opposite, in fact – a few tentative jeers quickly gained volume until nigh on half the home following was hooting along.
They had a point – Wigan’s play had slowed to a standstill, and this goal was akin to a one-player game of table football. The defenders’ subsequent violent shaking of heads was an increase in movement, at the very least.
On a more positive note, this incident seemed to provide the energy boost this game so desperately required. And it was somewhat fitting that Gabby Obertan, thus far the liveliest of those in blue and white (fans notwithstanding), tucked Ryan Colclough’s cushioned ball inside Lewis Price’s right hand post. 1-1, Ticsfans back onside.
Nope, I’m not kidding.
Unfortunately, half time once again transformed the players into little wooden men held together by large metal rods – in other words, absolutely nothing happened.
…That is, until Anthony Forde chanced a hopeful effort from distance. It would have been another simple slip catch for Haugaard, but as he was already flying towards his wicket keeper, a second Rotherham goal was the almost chuckle worthy result.
Alright, maybe that was a bit harsh – we’ll say it took a large deflection for poor Jakob’s sake. In any instance, redemption was at hand – not only did the Latics goalie fend off two further medium range efforts, but two further goals were also on the way.
The first of those goals was manufactured by Obertan, whose pass pinpointed Alex Gilbey on the edge of the Millers’ penalty box. Taking a steadying touch or two, ‘Gilberto’ chipped over Price to complete the breakaway with a satisfying equaliser. Blimey, two Latics goals in one game!
Bearing this in mind, I dunno if I should explain the rest – my head may explode all over again. Ahhhh… go on, then.
I’m definitely not kidding!
The winning goal was the direct result of a grappling match between Lewis Price and substitute Nick Powell – today making his triumphant return to comedy – on the edge of Rotherham’s area. Both parties were booked for their misdemeanours, but the hosts were awarded a (possibly dubious) free kick.
It was a bittersweet moment, really. Yes, Nick Powell fired through everyone to nigh on burst Price’s netting. Yes, Latics had pilfered the points in the seventh minute added on.
But yeah, what if Powell hadn’t suffered those injuries this season? What if Yanic decided to stay? What if Jordi Gomez was used more effectively? And what if Warren Joyce harnessed the true power of trousers?
Meh, shoulda woulda coulda. Anyway, who said crap games can’t be exciting?