After the delights of the Boxing Day win over Leeds United, and with an unchanged team apart from the incoming Adam Forshaw, expectation levels were high for last night's game. The song played as patrons exited the ground was bitter sweet symphony and it is more bitter than sweet the taste of Wigan's football.
Things though did look good at the start of play, that passing football we all know we can play was in full affect with Ivan Ramis that cool and collected head we so clearly missed in recent games in the backline. The wing backs adding some natural width, although Andrew Taylor's clear lack of attacking prowess is shown when he plays out there, often caught in two minds between an outright left winger or an actual full back.
That would cause problems last one, as Wigan had the lions share of the ball in the opening period. As ever though we failed to work the goalkeeper. I can't actually remember a time in the first 45 minutes when their keeper was really panicked.
It says a lot for a game when the closest either team came to scoring in the opening 45 was a deflected Sheffield Wednesday shot of Rob Kiernan was pushed tamely out for a corner by Scott Carson. Even the shot come deflected shot was going wide of the goal.
Some cheer in the second 45 minutes would follow, only for the lines man's flag to be raised. Andrew Taylor drawing a foul down the left wing allowed Ben Watson to whip a delicious ball into the box. The resulting kick found James McClean who slid in and slotted the ball home. The tightest of off-sides showing luck had swung out of our favour.
It would go from the excitement of the goal and the feeling that maybe we could win this one, to complete and utterly flummoxed in the space of about ten minutes. Callum McManaman and early substitution in the second half for Marc Antoine Fortune seeing red. The tackle is self was good, the ball won and the player caught in the follow through, the nature was two footed and according to the referee reckless. The modern rules, and a decision which swung the game.
The moment Macca was off the players looked sucker punched. The fight and groove to our play had gone. The structure both defensively and when going forward was lost and we kind of fell to pieces. It would be another set piece which provided Sheffield Wednesday's break through.
Cross from the Wednesday left saw the ball pumped into our six yard box, Scott Carson yet again rooted to his goal line, allowed the large figure of Atde Nuhiu to head the ball home and make it 1-0 Sheffield. That is the second time in a week Carson should have come to claim a cross and taken the pressure off, the saves he makes means nothing if he won't and can't come for crosses.
Their goal spurred us on little and less. In the dying embers of the game we managed to string a few chances together. The best of them coming from a devastating Shaun Maloney free-kick, the midfielders cross come shot hit the post bounced out and was turned over eventually by James McClean. Our best chance of the game to score a goal.
Yet again our failure to score sees us lose a game. The worrying part is that we don't even look like creating chances anymore, going forward there seems to be no creative spark. The player who provided some last night managing to get himself sent off.
Here is hoping to a better 2015. I feel we could be in for a bumpy ride.