After the disappointment of Tuesday’s draw and poor performance can we hope for anything better today? Now that Lee Johnson has taken over from Parky perhaps this will give our squad the kick up the arse it needs. I can’t say I was thrilled by the news about Lee as I was hoping like many for a Pearson-Phillips combination but I’ll reserve judgement till I see what he can do. Anyway, he’s wasting no time and is in charge today so I hope this will encourage our players to impress him. It’s well-known that our side lacks pace, perhaps that’s down to poor training, and I hope as ever that McFadzean and Diamond will play at least some part today to give us some zip. Will McGeady start and will he give us what we’ve lacked? There were so many rumours going around about why he and Parky fell out but I have to say I was pleased at the likelihood that he’ll feature today as he can be very creative on his day. Wigan are rock bottom and if we can’t beat them, God help us so this is a great chance to get three points and revitalise our season. When we were last promoted in 2006-7, it was our post-Christmas form that really did it for us and a crucial signing or two like Johnny Evans made a huge difference so there’s plenty of time to turn things around. We’re still on the fringes of a promotion place and a few wins would put a very different complexion on things. I’m back in London for a while so it’ll be SAFSEE solo for me. Match prediction: 2-0 to us.
McGeady was starting and so was Will Grigg in the absence of the injured Wyke while Burge was back in goal. As kick-off approached I was feeling optimistic, fool that I am. I got SAFSEE on and awaited developments.
We were playing 4-4-2 and had a bright start, winning a corner in the second minute. McGeady took it short and it was cleared so I hoped that wasn’t a sample of what we were going to get. We then had a shout for handball when the ball hit Tilt’s hand but referee Kettle wasn’t interested though we quickly won our second corner. That one was wasted too and we really need to get more practice at them as they nearly all end up going nowhere. We continued to do most of the pressing without creating anything goalworthy but in their first attack Wigan took the lead when in the sixteenth minute Joseph was allowed enough time by Wright to turn and shoot into the bottom left-hand corner. The match became more even and Wigan soon won their first corner which Burge punched away. We started to get the edge again but as so often recently the final balls were letting us down. Hume was injured and was replaced by McFadzean around the half-hour mark. We finally got a shot on target when a Scowen shot was turned round the post by Jones In goal. Maguire went for glory after a good run and blasted it high and wide when he would’ve done better to pass it. Anyway, at least we were still pressing and I hoped we could get one back before the break. Just before the break we escaped a penalty when Naismith went down in the box and again referee Kettle wasn’t having it. There were four minutes of stoppage-time but we didn’t create anything of note and it remained 0-1. Despite having the bulk of possession, we’d done very little with it and a combination of failure in the final third and sloppy play were the reasons for this.
Of course we badly needed to get an equalizer quickly as Wigan were probably going to sit back and play for time. Nothing much of note happened during the opening ten minutes of the second period and I wondered which subs Johnson would make and when, surely not as late as Parky used to do. We were winning the occasional corner, even getting three in a row around the hour-mark, but Wigan were packing their box and got it away every time. Was another 1-1 draw all we could hope for? Scowen had a great header that Jones tipped over for yet another corner and that was our best effort all half. A McGeady shot was also tipped over by Jones and then Embleton and Graham replaced Power and Grigg with about a quarter of the game left. There was still plenty of time to get something out of the match but it certainly didn’t look like we’d get two goals. If anything, Wigan started to make more of a game of it but my spirits rose a little when Diamond came on for McGeady with around fifteen minutes to go. Time was racing away and even a draw was looking unlikely unless someone could produce a bit of magic. Even with five minutes of stoppage-time we failed to create anything further of note let alone any magic and it ended 0-1.
It feels like we’ve reached the lowest of the low. Lee Johnson must have an awful lot to think about.