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With Dave we will suffer; with Dave, will we recover?

Ronan Keating once sang “Life is a rollercoaster, just got to ride it”. Ronan Keating is a gobshite. That song is shit. Supporting Latics is even shitter.

I couldn’t make the game last Saturday. Got up to watch the World Club Challenge and tested positive for COVID.  Massive shout out to our lovely mates who dropped off/sent prosecco so I could celebrate St Helens becoming world champions while isolating. I thought after they let a 12-0 lead slip (another team I support throwing away a two-score lead? Fucking hell) that it wasn’t our day, but I would happily have volunteered to take the trade-off of being sick and under house arrest in exchange for Lewis Dodd’s golden point drop goal. God I love sport.

Sport isn’t always that entertaining though, as it proved at Boundary Park. I can only judge from the highlights, which were hilarious to watch thanks to the inadvertent commentary from someone sitting near the camera “they’re gonna score here! What’s wrong with them? They shouldn’t need to be told what to do!” The short free kick played to Shelton for the first goal looked like a well-worked move. Despite going in 1-0 up at HT, there were audible boos on the Latics Player commentary, which is downright odd behaviour. “Oh they’re booing even though we’re winning, point taken, I will now try much harder and play much better in the second half.” Some people claimed on social media that the boos were ironic. The problem with ‘ironic’ booing, though, much like ‘ironic’ sexism, is that it sounds exactly the same as your standard, ordinary, common-or-garden booing. It’s just weird, lads.

Again, I can only go off the highlights but it looked like we were a bit slow to react in defence. We managed to keep a clean sheet, though, and closed out the game with a lovely goal. Sheron intercepted the ball in midfield (we seem to have been making a habit of doing that recently, which is pleasing), and played in Reid who fired in a cracking shot from the edge of the area. I said at the time “looking forward to his Instagram story tonight”, and reader, I was not disappointed.

Photo © Luke Reynolds

Unsworth – wisely – praised the fans, saying they were great “and we thank them for that”. He was again keen to highlight Nuttall as an unsung hero: “He’s giving us everything, work rate, his physicality, he’s trying to link. The work he does, the stats he does, people don’t see that. He’s running further than anybody on the pitch. That gives Reidy the opportunity to go in behind.” I’ve heard a lot of people criticising Nuttall and saying he’s lazy, and I think that’s unfair. He’s not always effective, but I don’t think he’s not trying at all.

One of the things Unsworth was keen to stress was the results matter more than the performance: “we’re in a fight…it doesn’t have to be pretty”. Which is great, so long as you’re winning, or at least not losing. If it isn’t pretty, and you also don’t look like you’re putting up much of a fight, and people have made a 270 mile round trip on a Tuesday night in February to watch an ugly loss on a fucking athletics track, then people have got every right to be pissed off.

We were dreadful at Gateshead. Just really, absolutely fucking dreadful. They took the lead early on and the goal gets worse every time I watch it. From their keeper kicking it out, no Oldham player got anywhere near the ball until Hogan put it into his own net. No urgency, no aggression, acres of space for them to run into, so slow to make any attempt to close them down. Norman made a couple of good saves; we could easily have been 4-0 down at half time.

Photo © Eddie Garvey

We must have made our customary tweaks at half-time, because we did look slightly better and more positive in the second half. It was a great strike from Sutton for the equaliser, and he continues to impress. Reid was unlucky to put the ball into their side netting after a good run. It was no surprise when Gateshead retook the lead, though. Norman made a decent save from the initial shot but yet a-fucking-gain we were far, far too slow to react and clear the ball. It’s shit. I’m sick of it.

Unsworth fronted up for the post-match interview, and it’s a sign of how crap this season has been that I feel compelled to give him credit for that. He was full of praise for the opposition: “First half they were better than us, fair play to them. The credit must go to Gateshead, they performed really well….over the three games they’ve caused us a lot of problems so fair play to them.” Sorry, am I watching Unsworth talking about Gateshead or Jurgen Klopp talking about Real Madrid? I know we can’t take beating anyone for granted. I know we’re in this division because we deserve to be. But I don’t want to hear about how fantastic Gateshead, or Halifax, or Boreham Wood are. I want to know why we looked so sluggish. I want to know why, so often, we don’t bother moving out of first gear until the second half. More than anything, I want it to stop fucking happening.

Onto Chesterfield away, then. They haven’t won since January 24th so I think we all know how this episode ends. But who knows, maybe the team that’s really aggressive and positive and attacking will turn up and we’ll score 4 or 5. You just never know with Rhinoball. Safe travels if you’re going. KTMFF.


Written by Arlene Finnigan

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