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Dagenham? Dave!

Supporting Latics is many things. It’s frustrating, infuriating, draining, painful. But it’s never boring.


Let’s call a spade a spade and a bucket of shit a bucket of shit. The Halifax game was woeful, abject, soul-crushing. The referee was appalling, Halifax were rubbish, we were far worse. Halifax were awful up front and didn’t have a shot on target until just before half-time, but we surpassed them by quite some way. We didn’t have a shot on OR off target all game. So, in 90+ minutes of football, we made no meaningful attempt to win the game. Christ.


I commented in the first half that the referee was crap, but at least he was consistently crap for both sides. That very much wasn’t the case in the second half, when Suzanne Geldard tweeted “10-man Latics are playing 12 men with this referee. Absolute joke”. Halifax were awarded a fairly soft penalty for handball, but that seems to happen all the time at every level now. Norman was unlucky to not be the hero again, making a good save but the rebound was tapped in. The foul on Yarney, who was wrestled to the ground in the Halifax 18-yard box, looked a far more blatant penalty, as did the foul on Abraham, who was also booked for a 50-50 challenge. I didn’t see it at the time, and it doesn’t seem to be on the highlights, but it sounds like Fondop deserved to be sent off for raising an arm to a Halifax player. I can understand his frustration (and at the time I assumed he’d been sent off for calling the referee a cheating fucking c**t), but it was a stupid thing to do, especially as he’s now out for 3 games which were supposed to be an ideal opportunity for us to use home advantage to pull away from the relegation zone.


Mind you, David Unsworth seems to have changed his mind about our run of home games being a great opportunity. In his post-match interview, he said our pitch is ‘a leveller’ and “it’s not an advantage to us, playing on that surface”. Nice little kick in the bollocks for the ground staff there, Dave. It shouldn’t be an advantage to the away team, either. Some might think that having one of the biggest home crowds in our division behind you might be a bit of an advantage, but maybe not.


As dreadful as the referee was (we can only imagine what Shez would have said to him), he wasn’t the reason we didn’t have a single shot on goal. He wasn’t the reason the energy and aggression we seemed to finally be showing v York was completely absent. Unsworth was disappointed because “I felt it was a 0-0 game”. As if drawing 0-0 at home to a Halifax team only 4 points ahead of us would have been a good result. He claimed that, in the second half, “we applied ourselves, we threw caution to the wind”. I repeat: we did not have a single shot on goal. On or off target.


Things could only get better on Tuesday, right? We certainly started better, having 2 (or was it 3?) shots on target in the first 10 minutes (followed by a few that were way off target). We still weren’t urgent, aggressive or positive enough though, and we were way too slow to clear the ball that led to Dagenham and Redbridge’s opening goal. It was inevitable that the crowd would react and turn on the manager as soon as we went a goal down, and unfortunately conceding felt inevitable as well, and chants of “David Unsworth, your football is shit” rang out before half-time.


In his post-match interview, Unsworth said that at half-time he just told the players to not panic and to stick to the plan, which I found a little surprising because, in the second half, they looked like a different team who’d ripped up the plan they had in the first half and thrown it in the bin. Sheron equalised with a great strike from outside the area early on after D&R failed to clear a corner. We then took the lead from another corner, with Yarney firing a header towards goal and Rooney getting the final touch to put it away. Sheron said after the game that they were having an argument in the changing room about who scored, which makes me wonder who’d win in a fight. Yarney’s a big strong lad, but I don’t know whereabouts in Liverpool he’s from, whereas Rooney’s from Croxteth, which is as rough as a badger’s arse, and his family are boxers. It’s a fight I’d quite like to watch to be honest. The Athleticos responded by singing “David Unsworth’s a football genius”, because we fans, too, are massive shithouses. Top work, children.


We had the chance to give ourselves a bit of breathing space when we were awarded a penalty, but where would the fun have been in that? Nuttall’s effort wasn’t the best, the keeper went the right way and saved it, and we were soon punished for it. Norman fumbled the ball as it was crossed in from a corner, and it looked like they’d snatched a point. At the time I wasn’t sure whether they’d scored, because they didn’t seem to be celebrating, which was a bit weird after an 84th minute equaliser. Happily, we weren’t done, and we were awarded another penalty for handball in the closing minutes. Nuttall carried his bollocks into the 18-yard box in a wheelbarrow, took the ball off Rooney, and, hilariously, put his shot in nearly exactly the same place as his first one, but this time it sailed past the keeper. And we STILL weren’t done. The fourth goal, well into injury time, was arguably the best of the game. Tollitt (who was superb 2nd half) intercepted the ball brilliantly, passed it beautifully to Chapman, and his lovely finish finally settled our nerves. And the Athleticos ended the game singing about David Unsworth being a football genius again. It was everything that the Halifax game wasn’t. Glorious stuff.


Unsworth acknowledged the fans’ anger in the first half after the game, saying “we’re desperate to win, I know the fans are, and that can spill over into frustration”. He singled out Reid and Gardner for praise, and I have to admit, I was delighted to have been proved wrong, having grumbled on my way into the ground that “I’d rather have Ava Gardner on the fucking bench”. He also called Nuttall an ‘unsung hero’, saying that the yards he puts in every game and the work he does can go unnoticed. He also admitted that he didn’t watch the second penalty – “my bottle had gone!” Honestly, David, you don’t do yourself favours sometimes. Not one of those houses indeed.


I hope Unsworth proves us wrong and goes on to become a football genius. Right now, we don’t know which team is going to turn up from one game to the next. Will we bang in 4, 5 goals? Or should the opposition goalie bring his tablet and catch up on some box sets? It’s kind of exciting. But it’s no good for your mental health. We’ve got a weekend off, then a massive game at home to Gateshead next Tuesday. Here’s hoping love is in the air.


Roses are red

Latics are blue

Don’t fuck this up lads

Make it two wins in two.


KTMFF.



Written by Arlene Finnigan. Image © Luke Reynolds.

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