Latics suffer first defeat of season and exit the FA Youth Cup despite a proud display against Liverpool.
- U18 Match Report: Liverpool 2-0 Wigan Athletic
- Two goals in 12 minutes earn Reds a place in Quarter-finals
- Latics suffer their first defeat of the season in all competitions, but put in an excellent showing at Chester FC.
Goals from Paul Glatzel and Bobby Duncan clinched the fifth round tie for the hosts, but Latics were more than a match for their Category One opposition for the rest of the contest.
Latics had a number of chances to get back into the game, including penalty appeals being waved away. Charlie Jolley and Joe Gelhardt had opportunities to get the visitors back into the game, but Liverpool held on, with Latics left frustrated at a disallowed Jolley goal and two penalty claims waved away.
Latics made eight changes from Saturday’s 4-2 win over Accrington Stanley, with Victor Maffeo and Luke Robinson replacing Harry Jolley and Ryan Galvin, whilst captain, Scott Smith and England youth international, Jensen Weir came into the midfield in the place of Neil Monaghan and Mitchell Culshaw.
There were also changes up-front for Latics with Divin Baningime and Jolley both coming into the side, as well as a return for England youth international, Joe Gelhardt who scored a hat-trick in Murphy’s side's 6-2 win over Hull City at KCOM Stadium in the fourth round.
Latics, who remained unbeaten in all competitions this campaign, started the game brightly in a 4-3-1-2 set-up, with Baningime, who has scored two goals in two games in the FA Youth Cup, providing the support for Gelhardt and Jolley up front.
Though, it was the Premier League side, Liverpool who took the lead early on with their first chance of the game.
The ball fell kindly into the path of Glatzel, who took it first time and his left-footed effort flew into the roof of the net from 16 yards out.
Liverpool doubled their advantage eight minutes later to inflict more damage on Latics at the Swansway Stadium.
A flurry of passes saw the ball eventually fall to forward, Duncan who controlled the ball before firing his curling effort off the woodwork and past Latics goalkeeper, Bobby Jones.
Latics responded well and nearly halved the deficit on 23 minutes, Gelhardt’s inspired run past four Liverpool players nearly reaped its rewards as the forward drifted into the box, with the resulting tackle forcing Vitezslav Jaros into a good save.
Gelhardt was involved again as Latics had a few chances in quick succession, as Peter Murphy’s team put the pressure on the hosts again.
Will McGuffie clipped the ball around the corner for Maffeo who found Gelhardt, with the latter’s right-footed effort forcing Jaros into another save.
Left-back, Robinson found space down the left-hand side and the Scotland youth international’s cross found McGuffie at the back-post, though his towering header drifted inches wide, with the goalkeeper beaten.
Latics were harshly denied a goal on 35 minutes, as Jolley had the ball in the net following Jones’ ball over the top of Liverpool’s defence, though the goal was ruled out as the forward was adjudged to have pushed a Liverpool defender to the floor.
Liverpool were denied a third goal just before half-time as Rhys Williams broke free from a corner, though his effort was cleared off the line.
Chances fell to both sides on the stroke of half-time, Duncan was denied his second of the game courtesy of Maffeo’s clearance off the line, before Gelhardt’s shot from the edge of the box at the other end flew just wide.
Latics started the second half on the front foot and were denied a penalty as Jolley went down under the challenge of Yasser Larouci, though the referee waved away the appeal.
Jolley was involved again and Latics came close to equalising on 50 minutes. Gelhardt’s well-timed tackle won the ball back and Jolley drove forward, twisting and turning before firing his curling effort just over the bar, with the Liverpool goalkeeper well-beaten.
Latics made three attacking changes in the hope of getting back into the game with Culshaw, Kyle Joseph and James Berry all coming on and the substitutes were involved straight from the off with Culshaw driving a ball across the face of goal, though Jolley failed to divert his header goal-wards.
Liverpool almost added their third with less than ten minutes remaining, as Duncan found substitute, Dixon-Bonner on the left-hand side, though his curling effort went agonizingly wide of Jones’ post.
Murphy’s side continued to search for a goal back in additional time as Gelhardt ran forward once again and his deflected shot whistled inches over the bar, much to Latics’ frustration.
Latics left Chester FC with pride and the determination to continue their successful season as leaders of the EFL Youth Alliance, and with a place in the area final of the Youth Alliance Cup and the final of the Lancashire FA Youth Cup.
Latics are next in action in the Youth Alliance on Saturday 23 February against Tranmere Rovers at Christopher Park.
Latics: Jones, Maffeo, Robinson (Berry 71), Obi, Long, Smith (Culshaw 71), Weir, McGuffie (Joseph 60), C. Jolley, Gelhardt, Baningime
Subs: Tickle, H. Jolley
Liverpool: Jaros, Walls, Larouci, R. Williams, Boyes, Clarkson (Bearne 86), Sharif, Cain, Glatzel, Duncan, Longstaff (Dixon-Bonner 79)
Subs: Kelly, O’Rourke, Savage