Wigan Athletic played their first match of any sort under new boss Owen Coyle at the weekend, by beating MLS side Columbus Crew a new era in the Latics history got off to a winning start.
All the goals came in the second half, James McCarthy and Marc-Antoine Fortune put the Latics into a two goal lead, before the Crew pulled one back late on to give the game a 2-1 score line
With the game being played in the US it was difficult to get there, but luckily for us Vital Latics member and Stateside Latics fan Matthew Auffrey, aka SouthwestDetroit made a 12 hour trip to watch his beloved team play for the first time on American soil, Matthew provides us with a report of his trip and the game, over to you Matthew:
Yesterday not only was my first time seeing the Latics in person, but my first professional football match as well so it was a very special day.
Thursday night I took an 11 hour bus ride from New York City to Cincinnati, Ohio where my mother lives and drove an hour and a half to Columbus with a friend about 4 hours before the match.
We went to a Crew supporters bar close to the stadium and there I met several other Latics fans. I met several ex-pats, one guy who flew over from Wigan for the game (he was sporting the new home jersey), and another born and bred American Latic like myself. We had a great time discussing the team and chatting with Crew supporters as well- many of whom expected we’d have no problem gaining promotion and genuinely seemed to wish us the best.
My friend and I made a short drive over to the stadium and we shared more beers in the parking lot with Crew supporters before the match. We stumbled inside by kick-off, found our other friends, and seated ourselves right around midfield several rows from the field.
Official attendance was 8,000 something. 6,000 would be my guess for actual butts in the seats. The stadium held 20,000 so I got a bit of a gauge of what a stadium like DW would feel like. The game definitely had an atmosphere of a friendly.
As for the match itself, I’ve only been watching football intensively for a few years so my technical knowledge of the game isn’t great, but I’ll give my 2 cents.
-For those that missed the first half on the stream, you didn’t miss anything at all. It was abysmally boring. Both teams were finding their bearings and there were a total of maybe 4 shots on goal between the two teams. Wigan definitely held possession better and the passing between our defence and midfield looked crisp.
-Play opened up in the second half (albeit not a whole lot), and both goals were class. Espinoza and Fyvie both played excellent balls in for the goals and the finishes by McCarthy and Fortune are a testament to the superiority in quality we had over the Crew.
-Of all the newcomers, Perch impressed me the most. Him and Boyce were very solid in the back.
-Holt struggled to get involved. I hope we experiment with 2 strikers in the upcoming matches this week.
-Buxton surprised me with an inspiring performance.
-McArthur and Watson controlled the midfield well. I’d feel confident with both of them if McCarthy left.
Other happenings… I was seated by a family of 4 from Louisville, Kentucky originally from Wigan. Had great chats with them.
I saw in the area of 100 Wigan jerseys scattered about throughout the stadium. A remarkable number when you really think about it. I saw a number of people wearing England shirts as well.
I saw several Espinoza jerseys throughout the stadium. His one year in Columbus has built a good foundation for Wigan support in the area. Espinoza had family/friends all decked out in blue in attendance and I wished them all well when I saw them leaving.
Mike Pollitt walked by my seats towards the end of the match to head onto the field. I was able to shake his hand and thanked him for staying on another year. Gary Caldwell wobbled by me on crutches as well. I wished him best of luck with his recovery and told him I’ll always remember his goal versus Liverpool. That got a chuckle out of him.
All in all, it was a great night and Wigan definitely left their mark on Columbus!
Latics fans before the game
Matthew in the Crew Stadium