1-0 To The Empty Seats
Vital Wigan member Bryan Plumb and his wife Sammi made the trip to White Hart Lane today hoping for a Latics victory, somedays you get just what you hope for, today was one of them days, over to you Bryan
2:45, Friday 28th August.
After a particularly stressful few weeks and having read many people's negativity towards all of the recent behind the scenes activity at DW Towers, the missus and I decided to ring our pals at the WAFC ticket office and sort ourselves entry to White Hart Lane.
Fast forward 24 hours and we have arrived (grabbing the obligatory 'pick and mix' on the way of course). We pick a seat towards the back end of the 134 other fans, like naughty school kids in a classroom, with the lively Latics supporters.
After a ten minute spell of Wigan on the constant attack with Latics cult hero, Emmerson Boyce playing right back and linking up wonderfully with new boy Ronny Stam playing out on the right wing, we grab three corners in quick succession and hit the bar from a powerful volley by big Steve Gohouri.
Harry shouts over at his players and Spurs calm it down, eventually taking control of the game. Both teams are well balanced despite the absence of want away Charles N'Zogbia, but a fantastic set up for Defoe and some poor marking leaves a clear shot on goal, but recently appointed no.1 keeper Ali Al-Habsi palms a shot out for a corner to chants of 'Ali...Ali...Ali!'
Panic sets in. 'Why the hell do we have no-one on the posts? And how much space has Crouch got?!' I scream at the Mrs. Bale whips the corner in and we clear with confidence. The game started to open up with possession evening out and some great decision making from Al Habsi, the fans are chanting his name and commenting about how confident he looks between the sticks, plucking the ball from oncoming striker's heads on numerous occasions.
The whistle blows and the players go off to chants of 'You are my sunshine', 'Wigan 'til I die' and '10-9, we're gonna win 10-9'. Sammie grabs a hotdog but I'm just too nervous to eat...even the fizzy cola bottles hadn't been touched.
The second half starts and the fans get straight back into it. It's another even looking half with chances going each way. With Boselli coming towards us, it is easy to see he is off pace. He's carrying a strapped up knee and isn't making any runs or real attempts at aerial challenges. It's not the he isn't trying, he just doesn't look fit enough yet.
Diame, Thomas and McCarthy look solid in midfield. Time after time, each make stunning tackles to retrieve the ball, and more importantly, all cover each other without bunching too tightly.
With ten minutes to go, throats aching from all the cheering, a long ball comes in to the wing, it's rocketed over to Alcaraz on the far post, Cudicini has missed it, and with one foul swoop at the ball, practically standard on the line, Alcaraz hit's it over. Faces are in hands, but we all cheer him on.
Suddenly, Spurs look all out of sorts. Pavlyuchenko and Kranjcar came on at half time and neither have really seen the ball. Gomez has been brought on for Boselli and Rodallega has taken up the loan striker position. Another long ball and Hugo is through. Gomez runs into the box and receives the ball at an awkward height, he attempts a volley and get's it slightly wrong, hitting it over. The fans applaud the effort and even though chances are coming, I can't help but notice a twinge in my stomach, the kind of twinge you get when you think something pretty crappy is about to happen.
Diame is playing a blinder, a ball comes through to Rodallega on the left. He cuts in once, twice, gets into the box amidst screams of 'shoot!' He takes a pop, straight past Cudicini and hits the back of the net. 1-0, Wigan! 'HUUUUGOOOO! HUUUUGOOO!' chant the fans, a conga line starts and we basically 'all have a disco'.
With minutes to play the ball is at the other end, Spurs blast a shot that looks to be heading into the roof of the net, but stunning Al-Habsi makes a fingertip save for another corner.
Bale sends another curler into the box and Wigan clear their lines, Rodallega ends up with the ball and takes it into the corner, right below the Wigan fans. 'Surely time must be up?' we all thought. Rodallega and Gomez cleverly force 4 corners to waste time, until the ball is lost and sent into our own half to the on-rushing Spurs strikers.
'The fourth official has indicated a minimum of 5 added minutes'
'How many? How the hell? There have barely been any fouls!'
Those were possibly the longest five minutes I have ever had. The final whistle blows and the Wigan fans jump for joy. Within the last two hours we had destroyed the memory of the last visit to 'The Lane'. All of the players applaud the fans and Hugo Rodallega, Emmerson Boyce and Ali Al-Habsi come over to thank the supporters, waving as they leave the pitch.
We leave the ground and wait outside the front to wave our boys off after a wonderful performance. Diame comes over, signs a few shirts and has his photo taken. The rain starts, hoods are up and the coach is heading towards us. As it passes, Martinez and Jones wave to Sammie and I, the last standing Wigan fans. Now, I'll be honest, I was feeling rather happy and sent a few air kisses in Roberto's direction, but I'm glad to report he laughed, grabbed an air kiss and punched the air with delight at the result...or my attention...
The coach drives off with all of the players waving at us. Job done.
An excellent game, much improved from the recent performances and actually looking like a team. The link up play between Boyce and Stam was amazing. It is great to see a winger who will chase back to tackle, but can't half send a cross ball. The centre of the park played incredibly well, held their lines and looked after one another. Defensively, credit where credit is due, we were bang on.
Man of the match though quite simply has to be Ali Al-Habsi. Save after save, shouting at the defence, keeping our heads up, he was truly brilliant. But the fan's certainly let Martinez know what we thought of him with the constant chants of 'Bobby, sign him up, Bobby, Bobby sign him up!'
Bryan and Boycey
Latics and Proud
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