Wigan Athletic 1 West Ham Utd 2
Sat 2nd April 2005
After a two-week break from action I think all Latics out there were looking forward to this week. Two big teams, a chance for a bit more ‘revenge’ and a chance to stake a real claim for the title. Not quite the most import 180 minutes of our season, but they were certainly up there. And what happens? We screw up the first and, marginally simpler (on paper), job. The league table, the game at their place and the first half of this game showed that West Ham were there for the taking. But why all of a sudden should Wigan Athletic start listening to things like form or league position?
I’m really not that sure where to start with this one. The first half never really got going, apart from the odd clever touch and breakaway. There was a fair pace to the play but little pattern. I wasn’t convinced, but seeing as I heard it from a West Ham fan, I’ll say that we edged it. Fair enough we had a good penalty shout but we had better and clearer chances than that.
Teale got into a good position, more than once, only to fluff his lines and Roberts did himself no favours in the Player of the season running by missing out, at least twice, when one on one with the keeper. For West Ham, Edward was by far and away their best player with a mixture of intelligent play and arrogant bullying, not to forget Premier League class whining, he was at the heart of everything good that the hammers did.
The second half looked like going the same way and I would have argued that the first team to score would have gone on to win it, and probably by a couple. How wrong could you be? Roberts took his goal well taking a long ball to the edge of the box and hitting his shot on the turn, but those first half missed chances were sure to come back to haunt us as soon as Sheringham celebrated his 39th birthday with his 19th goal of the season. From that point onwards Latics’ performance could be summed up in a single word. Capitulation. We lost the will, the shape and the desire to firstly stop us going further behind and more importantly do anything about it when we were.
The big talking points after the game were the selection of Wright over Jackson, Jewell’s substitutions and how the hell Ellington ended up playing on the left wing. There were plenty arguments to be had over whether individual errors/weaknesses or Jewell’s lack of nouse were to blame for this result. Personally I think that this match was lost in the hearts and minds of the players. Call it fatigue, call it lack of desire, call it bottle; basically our players weren’t mentally strong enough for this one.
For the umpteenth time this season, the wheels have come off, or so people will have you believe. Then again we’ve hardly been on a roll have we? Three games against West Ham at the JJB and no victory, if we’re going to have a bogey team it may as well be one with such a rich history and respected tradition. No, bugger all that, there’s no room for excuses. Latics were beaten by a better team, and barely even put up a fight.