Wigan 0 Blackpool 2 match report: Rollercoaster pair still uneasy

Blackpool not guaranteed Championship safety despite win while Wigan’s hopes of play-off place remain up in the air

One of the better pieces of news to come out of Blackpool during the week was that life expectancy in the town had risen by two months since 2009. Yesterday’s result dramatically increased the football club’s prospects of surviving in the Championship for another year while ensuring that Birmingham City, who were relegated from the Premier League with Blackpool, have the life chances of a 100-a-day smoker with a bottle of vodka under the bed.

By the time the final whistle went, Blackpool required a draw at home against Charlton in their final game to stay up and, if they do, Karl Oyston’s gamble would have paid off, although few Blackpool fans would be inclined to congratulate their chairman. There has been too much bitterness for that.

As a peace offering to those who had accused his family of ransacking the club for personal profit, Oyston had paid for 3,600 supporters to pack the away end of the DW Stadium while at the same time threatening 32 of them with libel writs for comments posted on  internet forums. It seemed to sum things up. However, as Wigan’s electronic scoreboard counted down, the visiting fans filled the emptying stadium with the defiant conviction that they would be staying up.

Where Wigan are going is altogether more questionable. This is a club that is about to complete an extraordinary year. In the space of 12 months they have won the FA Cup, been relegated, got through three managers, travelled Europe from Bruges to the Ural mountains and are on course to go to Wembley for the fourth time.

That kind of schedule might have tested a squad with Manchester City’s resources and perhaps it is not surprising that Wigan are starting to fray at the edges, although their manager, Uwe Rosler, thought the mistake that led to Blackpool’s opener was far more significant. As it is, Wigan still require three points from their final two matches to guarantee the Championship play-offs.

Had Martyn Waghorn converted the softest of spot kicks, awarded when Shaun Maloney appeared to lose his footing, it is unlikely a Blackpool side that had won two of their previous 25 games could have recovered. Waghorn’s shot was well struck but, somehow, Matt Gilks turned the ball on to the post.

After Wigan’s failure in the shoot-out against Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final, Rosler suggested that they would now practise penalties intensively and when asked yesterday if they had, he became  irritated. “Do you think that playing every three days, as we do, we have time for that?” he asked. Perhaps it is not surprising that a German would be more than usually angered by failures from the penalty spot.

The error that so enraged Rosler was the failure to deal with Isaiah Osbourne’s cross, converted by Andy Keogh. Ten minutes later, Keogh crossed deep from the byline and Stephen Dobbie timed his run perfectly to clip the ball home. 

On Good Friday, at around the same time – the 70th minute – Dobbie had been preparing to come on against Burnley when he became involved in a fight with one of his own coaches, Bob Malcolm. 

That was a game that summed up the civil war that has been brewing at Blackpool. After unveiling a banner that accused the Oystons of using the club as a “cash cow”, the crowd began hurling tangerines and tennis balls on to the pitch. The fruit is self-explanatory, the balls date from a protest by fans of Basel and Lucerne angered by the rescheduling of their fixture to accommodate a tennis match involving Roger Federer. Blackpool fans are passionate but they also know their minor European football.

And yet if you judged a club purely on its balance sheet, Blackpool would be a model. The Championship runs on economic lines that would shame a banana republic and last year Blackpool were one of only four clubs in that division to make a profit. The seven most indebted Championship clubs in 2013 – Bolton Wanderers, Leicester City, Brighton, Ipswich Town, Middlesbrough, Hull City and Cardiff City – owed a combined total of £670m. Blackpool are debt free.

In their first season after relegation from the Premier League, their wages-to-turnover ratio was running at a healthy 42 per cent while Bristol City were paying their footballers a lunatic £1.57 for every pound the club made.

And yet, had Oyston, who was watching from the directors’ box, paid to hire an experienced manager to replace Paul Ince after he was sacked earlier this season, or spent a little more – even when they went down from the Premier League they had one of the lowest wage bills in the Championship – they might not have been in this state. The town has enough rollercoasters without this. 

One of the biggest attractions on Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach is the Pasaje del Terror, although compared to what the club’s supporters have been through, the “Journey of Fear” seems a very tame way to spend an afternoon.

Line-ups:

Wigan Athletic (4-3-3): Al Habsi; Perch, Boyce, Barnett, Beausejour; McArthur, Gomez, Espinoza (Fortune, 69); McManaman, Waghorn (Powell, ht), Maloney (McClean, 79).

Blackpool (4-4-1-1): Gilks; McMahon, Cathcart, McGahey, Halliday; Basham, Osbourne, Perkins, Bishop (Barkhuizen, 69); Dobbie (Martinez, 90); Keogh (Fuller, 82). 

Referee: Andy D’Urso.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss