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FA launches investigation into Wigan-Cardiff match played with different sized goals

I've played on long fields, short fields, skinny fields, wide fields. Fields with metal fencing as the net and fields so hilly you could barely see from one goal to another. In high school, the inauguration of our newly-turfed home field was even delayed because movable goals were brought in instead of anchored ones.

But never have I heard of the goals being two different sizes — as was the case at Saturday's EFL Championship match between Wigan Athletic and Cardiff City.

Embed from Getty Images

This deformity was known before kickoff, as coaches from visiting Cardiff pointed out the defect to the referee. The goal was measured to be two inches taller than the required eight feet, but the proposition from match official James Bell was either to delay the match or play as is.

"We were initially told we'd have to wait a couple of hours for it to sink another couple of inches," Cardiff manager Mark Hudson said, "but no one wanted that. We decided to continue with it and it was the same for both sides."

There was a seven-minute delay at the beginning of the match as the issue was discussed and Hawk-Eye — the goalline technology system — was recalibrated, but from there the match went on as planned.

Cardiff took advantage of the heightened posts, as Ryan Wintle fired in a free kick off the underside of the bar to give the Blues a 3-1 lead in the 92nd minute.

"One of the goals was two inches too high and their third goal goes in off the bar, so you do the maths," Wigan boss Leam Richardson lamented after the match. "It's the same for both sides, it's just coincidental that the killer third goal is one that probably bounces away at the other end."

To add to the grief of Wigan's two-goal defeat, the club will also face punishment from the English FA for this unprecedented mess-up. 

How did such a dilemma occur in the first place? The goals at DW Stadium are dismantled after every Latics game by the grounds crew as the field is shared with rugby league side Wigan Warriors. The posts are then reassembled the following matchday, hopefully to the correct dimensions.

The Wigan players, and grounds crew, have a chance for redemption against Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

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