Wigan Woes

Last updated : 13 January 2002 By john hawkins

This was a profoundly disappointing performance. True, the referee gave some particularly dodgy decisions - particularly in the 1st half - but in reality we were out thought, out fought and out played by Wigan who in Andy Liddell had the best player on the pitch - he gave us trouble all afternoon long.

First five minutes was all Albion and we laid siege to the goal without making any clear cut chances. Then the first sign of danger. Liddell gets past Mayo and crosses into the box. Royce pulls off a great save, but two minutes later has little chance when Liddell is left unmarked on the right hand edge of our box; 1-0.

After 15 minutes we are 2-0 down. I thought Carpenter was fouled going for a header, the ref. didn't give it and when the ball went into the box a Wigan player went down. It looked no more than a clumsy challenge, but if it had been up the other end we'd have screamed for a penalty. Penalty it was, Liddell converted.

Throughout the match Bobby was roundly booed by the Wigan fans - something he'll have to get used to. This was not his best match and he looked off touch and easily dealt with by Wigan's beefy centre backs. However it is unfair to blame just him, the service and the passing never got going, but more disappointing was the fact that Wigan seemed to win all the 50:50s.

Royce got clattered when he had to clear a hideous back pass by Morgan, who later on in the half won a free kick and was then booked by the ref. - bizarre or what?

Our only main chance of the 1st half was when Hart got tripped on the edge of the box. the referee seemed uninterested in the 10 yard rule - but again the Watson/Carpenter routine was lousy - why not go for a direct shot?

Half time and I feed a Hot Dog to my youngest son, Michael. His first game watching the Albion and despite the play and score he says he is enjoying it (that's my boy!). However I think he has seen another side of his Dad today, the one that screams at 11 players and advises them in no uncertain terms to extract their digits from where ever they may have put them.

Second half a bit of a blur to me to be honest but early on there's a grotesque challenge on Royce. He needs more treatment but the referee lets it go completely unpunished. Outrageous. The Brighton fans call for Brooker in a desperate attempt to try and change things. Someone needs to try running at Wigan and getting round the back, we are not making them sweat at all.

Eventually he is brought on but instead of the obvious swap for Jones, its Hart who comes off. Only logical reason I could fathom for this was Harty is still not 100%. The other reason might have been Taylor wanted to keep Jones on so Jones/Mayo could try and cope with Liddell on our left but as Jones promptly switched to the right I'd got that wrong too.

Steely is trying up front but Bobby has the most anonymous match I've seen him play for ages and plays deeper and deeper - perhaps in a desperate attempt to find the ball? Then - in quick succession - Virgo comes on for Morgan (presumably as insurance in case Morgan picks up a second yellow) and to be fair does no worse at handling Liddell than his supposedly more experienced peers. Final sub is Webb on for Mayo as we change to playing 3 at the back, but it makes no difference.

Liddell's hat trick comes when it is 2 v2 at the back and Carpenter (who will want to forget this game in a hurry - as will most of them) gives the ball away just inside our half. Liddell breaks free and you know what is going to happen. Putting it through Royce's legs was a bit cruel though.

Royce is the only one to come out of this game with honour though (although Steele never gave up working). Towards the end when it is 3-0 and Wigan are pushing for a 4th he pulls off 2-3 point blank saves to keep the score down. He's been a damned good borrow from what I saw today.

Thanks Brighton. as someone who works in Wigan I tremble at the stick I'll get on Monday - think I'll throw a sicky!

sad regards to all

john hawkins