The red mist descended on Emile Heskey yesterday and for Wigan the future remains as foggy as a Dartmoor pea-souper with the Hound of the Baskervilles roaming free.
The analogy to Conan Doyle's most infamous animal creation is apt because for 10 minutes at Villa Park, the ex- England centre-forward resembled a mad dog with a score to settle, namely a perceived elbow in the back of his head from Antolin Alcaraz.
That fractious incident emerged midway through the first half and Heskey, normally placid, vented his fury not on the Paraguayan but on titchy referee Mike Jones with a robust confrontation that should have merited a red card rather than the yellow shown. Respect, there was none. Curiously for a player clearly able to sustain his own, Heskey, once of Wigan, continued his verbal barrage before his team-mates calmed him down.
"I have not seen the incident," said Wigan manager Roberto Martinez. "But my players are adamant his [Heskey] reaction was out of order and deserved a red card. It would have been a key moment in the game, without doubt." There were suggestions that Gary Caldwell and Ashley Young were also involved in a lively exchange in the players' tunnel at half-time and with Heskey aggrieved his substitution was a wise one by caretaker manager Gary McAllister.
"If he did barge into the referee then he was lucky," admitted McAllister. "But it was totally out of character. I know he is not happy with his reaction." Heskey's antics proved an unwelcome distraction for officialdom and the visitors for whom a victory would have eased relegation anxieties immensely.
They began in style when Victor Moses eluded Richard Dunne's clumsy challenge and found Charles N'Zogbia who finished with a fine angled shot from the left for his eighth goal of the season. Villa restored parity in the 17th minute when Ashley Young curled a low free kick beyond Ali Al Habsi, although the Oman goalkeeper denied Heskey from close in.
While Villa surely are safe now, the fog should lift for either Wigan or West Ham next week when they face each other.
Sunday Indo Sport