Latics back in league action with positive first half display.
LEEDS UNITED U18s 4
Walters 8, 50
WIGAN ATHLETIC U18s 2
A rotated Latics side put in a commanding first half performance with Matty Hamilton and Joel Kerwin bringing them from behind before Chris Dawson dragged Leeds United level just before half time.
The second half was a different performance and the high levels shown in the first 45 minutes were not replicated enough for manager John Doolan.
His side started the game brightly, with five changes from the FA Youth Cup game against Stevenage as Danny Leigh, Ellis Gibbons, Paddy Christian, Ryan Jennings and Matty Hamilton were given the nod.
The link up play and the pace of Jennings and Hamilton was difficult to handle for the home side but, Leeds took the lead early on when Gibbons’ aerial challenge with Lewis Walters ended up spinning on the ground into the forward’s favour and the dangerous number 10’s deflected was fortunate to beat Michael Cottrill.
It was arguably against the run of play what with the bright start that Latics had made but, it wasn’t too long until Hamilton scored the equaliser.
A superb piece of football set up a strong period in the first half as Latics worked the ball from the back with Andy Mason playing the ball into Luke Ainscough in the middle.
Ainscough then linked up with Christian, he found Brad Anderson in an advanced position and the forward played the ball accurately through the defence for Hamilton to latch onto and slot his shot, one-on-one past the goalkeeper.
Soon after Latics made it 2-1 and took control of the game when Jamie Gibson’s clearance found Jennings who timed his pass with Joel Kerwin excellent wide run, to put the midfielder in on goal.
Kerwin still had the work to do, with two defenders breathing down his neck but, with a smart check back he lashed the ball left footed to give the keeper no chance.
Latics looked to make it 3-1 before half time when Ainscough carved open the Leeds defence with a ball through to Hamilton but, the forward’s second touch was heavy and despite attempting to chip the ball over the keeper, he couldn’t put the chance away as he was sounded out.
Just before half time came the equalising blow when Leeds capitalised from a thrown in and some timely deflections as midfielder Dawson took on Christian and Gibbons before seemingly tripping Leigh who came into tackle inside the area but, with the referee waving play on the Leeds man took his chance and powered the ball left footed past Cottrill at an acute angle.
The start to the second half wasn’t ideal and just five minutes after the restart Leeds took the lead for a second time when Walters got his second heading in at the back post from a cross that was blocked from the left.
Six minutes later it was 4-2 after a throw-in wasn’t cleared and Kalvin Phillips found space from a flick on down the line to cut inside and strike his long range effort beyond the keeper.
John Doolan was disappointed with the second half but insisted on focusing on his sides positives and the attitude of his first year players.
“We started the game really well and I was pleased to see players come into the team and give it their all from the first whistle.
“Ryan (Jennings) and Matty (Hamilton) showed great desire to win the ball back and to create chance when they had it.
“They showed understanding of each other’s positions and their work rate was at a very high level.
“We’ve enjoyed seeing the development of every player so far this season and against a physical side like Leeds we did very well to play in our style.”
Latics team: Cottrill, Leigh, Gibbons, Mason, Gibson, Kerwin (Mather 80), Ainscough, Christian, Anderson (Flores 80), Jennings (Johnson 70), Hamilton
Unused subs: Wilson, Thompson