Dan's Big Game Report - Hasta la pasta, gravy
The Madejski Stadium
In this post-fact world, it is difficult to know who you can trust.
So trust nobody, not even yourself. Latics lifting the FA Cup in 2013? Quite clearly a hoax manufactured by cigar-chomping TV execs eager to raise their profiles and broaden their waistlines. Come on, that sort of thing simply doesn`t happen to Wigan Athletic, does it?
At 5pm on 11 May 2013, good ol` Boycey and Gaz Caldwell were actually scraping several onion skin layers of mould from their kitchen taps. That might seem a relatively unglamorous way to spend FA Cup Final day, but they really had to do it or their wives would have 'killed them`.
I think you can safely assume Latics have been relegated to League One, though - some miscreant has scratched 'njoy leeg 1 ya ****s, BWFC 4eva [sic]` into that bridge over the River Dougie. Now there`s a reliable news source if ever there was one.
Feel the (Dan) Burn
With only the minutest of statistics to keep them hanging on, Wigan were in dire need of a certain demon goalscorer by the name of Powell. But since dev squad stalwart Tom Powell was released last month, Nick 'Five Goals` Powell would have to suffice today.
Meanwhile, Reading were immediately in intimidatory mood. Garath McCleary might have celebrated a slight defensive hesitation, if not for Matty Gilks` snap reactions at the back post. This save was part conditioned response, part 'Geronimo` headlong dive.
On the very next occasion, however, Gilksy`s oversized mitts weren`t quite large enough. As Yann Kermorgant`s header slipped past those despairing fingers, Graham Barrow smashed open the emergency Scotch cabinet - it was time for Reading to feel the Burn.
"Danny, help those strikers out a bit, will ya?" — Barrow
Actually, the snapping point (if you`ll excuse the misguided pun) was George Evans` grimace-inducing tackle on Shaun MacDonald. The former received a yellow card, the latter was rushed straight to the nearest hospital following 10 excruciating minutes of on-field diagnosis and treatment.
This incident ignited Latics` final hurrah of an oh-so-forgettable season with a succession of threatening corners and surprisingly decent opportunities. In the space of ten breakneck minutes, Powell witnessed two of his probing attempts saved smartly by the man who allegedly hates Bolton (at least according to the song), 'Allington` Al Habsi.
But despite these borderline superhuman efforts from a chargin` Burn and ragin` Powell, half time arrived with the relegation situation stickier than ever. An additional injury to Reece Burke pushed the half time break back to 3:57pm, prolonging the agony in more ways than one.
Best to get this over with, eh?
The contest resumed with Latics on the attack, presenting one chance apiece for Burn, Connolly and Powell. In a garden shed somewhere in Manchester, 'King` Wozzer Joyce was working hard on a glucose drink-powered time machine to send these opportunities back to the games with Blackburn and Nottingham Forest.
It`s not often this season that I`ve described a Wigan Athletic goal as 'inevitable`, and I certainly wasn`t expecting to say that today. But on this afternoon of all afternoons, with their fate firmly in others` greasy hands, a goal seemed more likely than ever. Add that to the ever-growing list of modern footballing paradoxes, would you?
However, as you might already have guessed, that seemingly sure-fire Wigan goal never did arrive.
Nick Powell made it to the 79th minute - possibly a new personal record - at which point substitute Omar Bogle made a surprise return. He rushed straight from the doctor`s table mere moments before results elsewhere mathematically confirmed Wigan Athletic`s Championship farewell.
Unsurprisingly, Dan Burn soon stopped pretending he was a central defender and also joined the attack line on a more permanent basis. His absence from the Latics area signalled a few more token Reading attempts, but the game had long since passed its sell by date. And just like that 'century lettuce` growing in my fridge, it was starting to smell a bit.
All too late, ref Tim Robinson wiped the saliva from his final whistle as Ticsmen wiped a small tear from their leaking eyeballs - Latics were fried. Kentucky Fried Chicken. Take these onion rings and learn to fry again.
Speaking of which, time to order a Saturday night takeaway of deep fried cheese singles!
What do you mean, the chippy`s closed? And why is it dark now? The game didn`t finish that late, did it?!
Subs - Jaaklola, Oxford, Popa, Mendes.
Latics - Gilks; R. Burke (Connolly 45), Morgan, Burn, Warnock; MacDonald (Power 21), Hanson, Perkins, Jacobs, Tunnicliffe; Powell (Bogle 79).
Subs - Jaaskelainen, Bruce, Byrne, Colclough.