Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Dizzying heights - the Mighty vs Wigan Athletic


Cotton wool please Neil. 

Put it this way. I've got history with Wigan. It's personal. 

I don't want the crappy carrier bag kit wearing non league club with ideas above their station who reside in a lego ground built on a sewage works to go bust. I really don't.

But I really want us to beat them tonight. I want us to beat them by 5,6,7 or 8. I want no sympathy for their troubles and travails off the pitch on it. I want us to destroy them, batter them, murder them, then to do it again next time we play them and repeat ad infinitum. I want them to have a complete existential breakdown as befits a club who can't decide if they play in all blue, blue and white, blue white and green or blue and black. I want them to reduced to deciding, on balance, it's probably better for their self esteem if they just stay the division below us, living in the shade, hiding away from the glorious Tangerine light. 

That's a 2-1 defeat for us for sure then... 

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Pool muster an early but unthreatening effort in the first minute, Grant Ward (in for the injured Williams_ trying the spectacular but leaving their keeper untroubled and patting it down to catch on the bounce. Both teams then pass it about a bit, waiting for a mistake. Joe Garner assaults Daniel Gretarsson just because that's what Joe Garner does best.  

Gabriel (who has replaced the presumably rested Turton) whips a beautiful near post ball and the Goal Machine stoops, heads low and hard but the Latics keeper makes a really good save. 
 
Pool keep them pinned back without causing any particular problems. It's nice to see the full backs getting forward and the ball moved quickly. CJ brings a ball down in the box, turns and blazes his shot well wide. 

A dodgy header from Gretarsson leads to a chance for Latics to pull it across goal and only a desperate charge and a deflection stops the man running from deep from hitting the target. Wigan are asserting themselves physically and the Viking looks a bit shaken by his buffeting. 

Latics serve another warning, breaking well and delivering a cross to Garner's head, he climbs above Jimmy Husband but can only nod into Maxwell's arms... Pool are struggling to get a grip in midfield. 

Then a slip releases Yates who charges and looks certain to shoot, but lays it off to Madine instead. The Goal Machine looks surprised to get it, but recovers to lay it off to Sullay, who checks back, makes space, pulls the trigger then slips at the key moment and the ball dribbles harmlessly...

--- but wait, there's CJ, in space, with time and the goal at his mercy... all he needs to do is hit the target... He sees a net bulging in his mind's eye and belts it as hard as he possibly can, as if determined to make this the best goal it possibly can be! 

Sadly for everyone, he wellies it into the stand. 

Sullay ties the defence in knots, skipping, turning, going one way then the other, all low centre of gravity and magnetic control in one of those moments where it looks like he can control time itself... He dazzles, he mesmerises, he's a genius in ten second patches, but he doesn't really know where he's going against a wall of Wigan, he's beating them but getting nowhere closer, there's always one more, he goes past one then another one appears, it's like they're regenerating after he's slain them so finally he chips a ball to the far post but no one has quite read it. 

Madine back flicks and Shirtless Jerry runs hard at the defence, stepping over and looking like dynamite but then running into the same wall that Sullay did but with a bit less art. 

Latics have a sharp chance at the near post. Hamilton slams a good ball across but no one can get on it. 

Big Marvin (who generally seems to be a very nice young man, the sort who'd help old ladies over the road and such) is fuming with the dastardly Joe Garner. Handbags almost ensues. The referee just tells everyone to play nicely please. 

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We need to not concede first. We've had chances but they've looked well organised and ready to hit us on the break. We need to find a bit more presence in midfield. Focus is on the centre half partnership and particularly Gretarsson's rude introduction to nasty English centre halves but truth is, we're also failing to win the battle in the middle against Wigan's 5 and with two of our four being Sullay and Grant Ward, we're definitely missing MJ Williams and his embrace of a tough tackle or areal tussle. 

If we score, I think we could pull Wigan apart as they have to push more up. If they score, I feel we could find it tough to break them down as they do the opposite. 

---

We come out and do that weird routine where we dance over cones like it's a tap dance warm up. Hadn't we stopped doing this? Why've we started again? 

Then Yates goes wide for a ball, picks it up, goes up against his full back and pulls it back, CJ and Madine turn in frustration but there's Sullay, coming from deep and gliding it home with the unseen ease and silent grace of a Amazonion warrier firing a blow dart into the neck of an unsuspecting adventurer. That is why we do the weird routine. 

Pool then set about their task of picking Wigan to bits well. Sullay puts a cross in that their keeper does very well to cut out. CJ wins a corner. Gabriel has a mazy run inside and shoots into a man, Dougall picks up the rebound and repeats the act but despite a great few minutes, we can't carve a real chance. 

Chris Maxwell makes a really good stop from some hesitant defending, Gretarsson half stabs a low cross away, but only to a Wigan forward who makes space brilliantly, shrugging off the lunging challenges with a turn that defies his burly stature before firing hard at goal. Maxwell stays tall, and throws up his arms, diverting the ball over the top, a terrific instinctive stop. 

Garner spins and kicks Husband as hard as he can. Just because that's how he plays. The ref has a polite word. Rule 42 - subsection (c) It's ok to kick people on purpose if you're Joe Garner. 

Then the Goal Machine somehow doesn't score. It's a beautiful move, Hamilton and Sullay combining like a dream, a one two then a pull back to Madine who has the chance to smash home, but turns and then with the delicacy of a dainty 17th century housemaid doing needlework tries to slide it home precisely. Sadly, he only succeeds in giving the keeper time to get down and make another good save. 

Wigan respond with a good spell. Five or so minutes where Pool are pinned back, losing it every time they pick it up, the biggest scare coming from a frankly terrifying corner which Maxwell tips away and Wigan lash it back but fortunately the bouncing ball cannons away, rather than into the goal. 

A surreal moment ensues from a Sullay freekick (it's notable how he's now on virtually every deadball) which is headed back from the far post then up in the air from Wigan. It drops to Marvin who somehow has acres of space and then somehow brings it down on the turn like he's always 6 yards out. Everyone stands completely still as if the play has stopped but it hasn't and Marvin goes from silk spun sugar to spilled milk as he finishes the move by toe poking it over the top like a schoolkid.

The moment is made weirder by Chissy having an imaginary argument about some letters than no one has sent to him about something no one gives a shit that he said. 

Sullay drift another free kick from the other side. Again it's a centre back free, deep, beyond the far post. This time it's the Viking who heads it back and it looks for a second or two like it's going to drop into the cornor of goal but it doesn't.  

Wigan make two changes and Pool respond by swapping Bez for Yates. 

There's an odd tension as the game draws to a close. Wigan aren't really creating anything put Pool haven't made chances count and players keep slipping under pressure. Wigan then have a helter-skelter of a move where it goes back and forth across the box before Maxwell finally scrambles it to his chest. 

Madine goes mad and dances through their defence but then can't quite get the shot from under his feet. 

I wonder why, of all players, we brought Bez on, as he's the player in the squad, if not in the whole of the division who is least likely to retain possession. Kemp comes on for Sullay who has had good game. Bez, chases a couple of loose balls down. Kemp skips away from his man and is brought down. Dougall lofts a ball into the corner. The ref blows the whistle... 

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Two wins in a row is grand. There's two ways of looking at this game.

a) we didn't particularly impress against a Wigan side who didn't offer a huge amount even if Garner gives them a hugely experienced and effective focal point that caused us real issues. I've seen worse teams than them but I do think they had a bit of a 'Bolton last year' vibe. Which I'm sure will delight them to know... 

b) we stuck to it against a side who set up resolutely and ultimately, the quality we have showed and had we put away some of the decent chances we created we'd have won it comfortably. 

There were moments where it seemed we could really take control of the game but equally, I never quite felt comfortable that we had done so. Wigan ran out of steam and you can see they're playing with spirit but lacking a bit. To be fair, they have a load of injured played so they might be a lot better than they look. 

I don't think we're playing at the level we need to to play against the best teams and really trouble them, but we are at least now making chances on a reasonably frequent basis against weaker sides and showing the ability to battle. We look so much better with Sullay involved than without him, with Madine properly integrated and part of the plan. We're also missing Robson, Williams and Virtue from the middle of the pitch so it's perhaps not surprising that at times we didn't run the show. I think we look far more coherent with 2 up front and for a short period in the second half (around the goal) we looked really mobile and fluid. It's that fluidity that will allow us to trouble the best teams. 

Anyway, that's all for another day. We beat them, we did ok. We've won 3 in 4 and we're on a march to glory. (i.e. not shitting ourselves in case it turns out we're so shit we finish bottom) 

We've won the Bryan Griffiths derby and that's all that matters right now. To me at least. Take yer pea wet and eat yer humble pie and fuck off. 

but don't go bust cos I'd miss you but don't tell anyone I said that. 

utmp

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