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.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Sport
The RBS Six Nations trophy at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Ireland vs England
rugby
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West found himself at the centre of a critical storm over the weekend after he apparently claimed to be “the next Mandela” during a radio interview
music
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?