Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Sunday April 8 2012
I've never felt more gutted following a Latics game than yesterday, to say we didn't deserve that result is the understatement of the season, to succumb to two off-side goals, one of which was so blatant that Specsavers have already contacted incompetent assistant referee Dave Bryan to star in their new TV ad, is at this stage of proceedings very hard to take
The Latics started the game un-changed from last Saturday's win over Stoke, though Momo Diame was back on the bench following his recovery from a groin injury. The first half pales into insignificance with the drama of what was to follow in the second period, though two good saves from Al-Habsi, a great clearance from Figueroa and two great efforts from the Latics, one from Di Santo the other by Moses, need mentioning.
With the scores at 0-0 both sides started the second half as they had finished the first, looking to attack, on 62 minutes Chelsea found themselves in front to the amazement of everyone inside the ground. A free kick from the right was lofted into the Latics box, it was defended well and the ball cleared, the Latics players rushed out leaving three Chelsea players stranded on the six yard line. Meireles knocked the ball back into the area, Ivanovic, standing two yards off-side almost apologetically touched the ball past Al-Habsi and into the goal, all eyes turned to assistant referee Dave Bryan who signalled for the goal to stand, what?!
The Chelsea players not believing their luck ran off in celebration whilst the Latics team to a man ran to the assistant to remonstrate at what was a diabolical decision. After consultation with his assistant, who appeared adamant that there was no off-side, referee Mike Jones was left with no option but to award the goal.
Aggrieved, the Latics went in search of an equaliser from the restart, the ball was knocked to Victor Moses, who carried it into the Chelsea area, a challenge came in from Bertrand, the ball spun loose into the path of Di Santo, the Latics striker knocked the ball towards an empty net only for Ivanovic to appear from nowhere and clear for a corner
Ben Watson and Momo Diame were brought on as the Latics searched for an equaliser and on 82 minutes they got it, Diame picked the ball up 20 yards out and central, he dragged the ball to the left creating a bit of space and hit a thunderous half volley that nestled into the back of Petr Cech's goal before the Chelsea keeper had time to react, 1-1
With the game going into stoppage time and seemingly heading for a draw the Latics had a chance to take all the points, Caldwell intercepted a pass to Drogba, he carried the ball into the Chelsea half, passed to Moses, he knocked to Sammon and the counter-attack was on, Caldwell continued his run in support of the break, the ball was crossed to the far post where Caldwell was unmarked, Cech though smothered the Latics skipper's effort and launched the ball down field for a Chelsea attack
Mata picked the ball up in midfield and knocked wide to Torres, the Spain international striker carried forward and the hit a shot that cannoned off Al-Habsi's far post but landed at the feet of Mata, who surely was in an off-side position, but the flag stayed down as the ball went over the line, 2-1. Replays show that both the Chelsea goals were off-side, the first one blatantly, the second one a little more hard to spot but top class assistant referees are paid top class rates to do exactly that, spot them.
It may sound a little bitter but I feel that the Latics were robbed of possibly three points by two very poor decisions, even one point would have carried us out of the bottom three and up to 16th, it doesn't bare thinking about what the repercussions maybe, fear not though we have a chance to make amends when Manchester United visit the DW on Wednesday, surely the officialdom cant be any worse that what we witnessed at Stamford Bridge, oh hang on a minute, isn't Phil Dowd down to ref us? Wow, just when you thought it could only get better!
Date:Sunday April 8 2012
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