Frozen Fun – Bolton report

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I’m not ashamed to say it, I enjoyed this game, I might be on my own in admitting it, but I actually came away from the ground with a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my stomach.  A small part of that will be due to the fact that that finally, after a litany of muck-ups and excuses; I’d made my first league game in a couple of months, but only a small part. 

The sad fact is that I love having blocks of ice for feet, I love scrappy mid-week games against (teams like) Bolton and I love it when my team doesn’t lose against local rivals.  They’re all abiding memories of my teens and if the price of reliving that is a nil-bout draw that brings neither love nor respite for either team then, I’m sorry, it was worth it.

You might want to convince me that we somehow deserve more or should expect more now than we did in the late 80s, but I’m not sure why.  What is there about Wigan Athletic, other than your support, that means they can change their manager, lose the key players of their squad and change their style of play at short notice, without struggling.  Why should a side forced to recruit from lower divisions and footballing backwaters fare any better than one bringing that type of player into the division with them?

We might be able to expect more if we could get stability for more than nine months but in the context of the yearly turmoil we’ve been forced to endure, we’ve done damned well to stay in the division for as long as we have.

Any way, that’s a debate for another day and a distraction from the fact that I enjoyed last night’s game.  It might not have been one for the neutral, but it was a derby, and they rarely are.  Derbies are for fans, not neutrals and there was plenty there for fans to chew on as both managers tried to get their teams to play a style that the pitch and conditions in general didn’t suit.

Every review I’ve read so far has fallen into the trap of believing that this game was boring, but how can a side where there’s local pride and a relegation spot at stake be boring.  I’ve seen some boring games over the last 5 years and this was far from it. 

The football might not have been of high quality, there might have been more mistakes than genuine chances, it might have made you cringe more than it made you cheer but the potential consequence of every slip, miskick or run into a brickwall surely had the nerves running.  And it’s the nerves that make the points worthwhile, right?  Otherwise you might as well go to the pictures.

You can probably tell that I’m not letting anything about this game get me down and so, like out Bobby, I’m taking the positives.  Firstly we didn’t lose, secondly we didn’t lose and thirdly….

Actually, there was more to it than that.  Firstly, Moreno replaced Scotland and looked bright and lively, his colleagues didn’t seem to know he was there, but he got about all the same and (strange positive I know) he managed to win more free-kicks than I reckon the other forwards have had all season.  Secondly, McCarthy got through 90 minutes which on that pitch with a dodgy hamstring is no mean feat.  Thirdly Moses got 10-15 minutes and showed enough to suggest that he’s really got something to offer us at his level and finally, we didn’t lose.

And we could have done.  Bolton had as many chances as Latics although N’Zogbia and Rodallega came closest of all Matt Taylor will be ruing the odd bobble or two (although Chris Kirkland will tell you he had them all covered.  All’s fair in love, war and scrappy relegation tainted derbies where you only get one chance on target.

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