I skirted around the ground to get some photos and some cash out, once I’d bought the match day programme I headed for my seat. I encountered a large number of Villa fans on my way, doing their best to annoys the locals by slating the town. I found my turnstile and after a few stairs was in the underbelly of the stand. I decided against treating myself to the local delicacy of a pie and headed directly for my seat. As I clambered up the steps headed for row EE it was to my dismay I was positioned firmly in between two larger gentleman, both upwards of 20 stone. I was obviously left cursing my luck as I’d passed up a ticket in the directors box for this one.
Anyway, I soaked(literally) up the atmosphere as kick off approached. The majority of the noise was from the Villa fans, clearly buoyed by their sides recent form of 4 wins in the last 5. The home fans were pretty quiet on the whole before the game but the buzz in the stand was clear once the players began to enter the pitch. This was a must win game for Wigan as time is running out for them to turn things around and stave off the drop back to League One.
The home fans seemed on edge from the first whistle, knowing it was crucial for their side to get points on the board here. The game itself didn’t have much to shout about until Mile Jedinak, being deployed as a centre half despite playing his trade as a centre midfielder for most of his career, played a back pass short of his goalkeeper which Omar Bogle latched onto only to miscue his shot into the side netting from close range. Neither side could really get hold of the ball too much during a dull first half in general. Bogle lacked composure as he blazed a shot over the bar from the edge of the area. Michael Jacobs had his low free kick well saved by Sam Johnstone from the edge of the area. Wigan clearly lacked cutting edge in the final third of the pitch, evidently frustrating the home crowd as Villa’s defence seemed determined to give them chances. Villa had done very little to speak of in the half until a Jordan Amavi run from the left side won a corner after his cross was well blocked by Dan Burn. The first half petered out without incident, however Wigan wing backs Jamie Hanson and Andy Kellett certainly deserve a mention, both seemed comfortable in possession and solid defensively.
The second half began very similar to the first with Wigan having the better chances, Bogle forcing Johnstone into another save early on. The surrendering of possession was often from both sides with real quality lacking in key areas. Unfortunately for Andy Kellett he picked up a serious looking injury, although he got himself off the pitch ok he seemed visibly distraught, pointing to a serious one. Villa changed the flow of the game with a double change midway through the half, Henri Lansbury and Scott Hogan coming on and it was the shape change of Villa switching to a 4-4-2 that unsettled the Latics defence enough to create the chance to break the deadlock. Centre half and captain James Chester met the ball at the far post with a stooping header to give Villa the lead. Wigans defence clearly occupied with the two centre forwards as the cross came in as Chester was relatively unmarked. Wigan toiled to create an opening for an equaliser to no avail as down the other end an Albert Adomah found Scott Hogan who headed home from around 6 yards out for his first goal since a 15 million move from Brentford in January. Two goals from two shots on target for Villa. The game fizzled out as it looked more likely for Villa to add a third than Wigan to get one back although a few fantastic sliding challenges on the near touchline from Dan Burn pleased the home fans somewhat. Understandably the atmosphere amongst the home fans was pretty negative and volatile as the game ended. In contrast the away fans were in full voice as their players approached to applaud.
All in all a difficult day in the north west amongst a frustrated home crowd who have grown disillusioned watching their side toil to another poor result. The weather and my position as the meat in the sandwich didn’t help either but it’s another ground I’ve been to, another one ticked off the list. My day in Wigan was brought to a close with a Costa coffee to warm up, until next time Wigan, farewell.