Latics edged out in six goal thriller
DERBY COUNTY U21s 4
Davies 11, 46
WIGAN ATHLETIC U21s 2
Latics fought hard during a tough afternoon at Derby County’s Moor Farm Training Ground, as the Rams fielded an experienced side that proved ruthless in front of goal.
It was a game with chances galore and the score line could have easily been reversed or increased for both sides.
Graham Barrow’s side was much changed from the one that hammered Nottingham Forest 5-0, with regular Under 21 players taking the places of the first teamers who stepped in last week.
Latics started the game strongly with comfortable possession and Ryan Watson even cracked the post in the fifth minute with a solid right footed drive from range.
Just as they began to get into their groove, Derby hit Latics hard when a simple free kick on the edge of the area was stroked in by Derby first team midfielder Ben Davies.
The opening stages of the game were proving hard to control as both teams battled for midfield dominance but, after seemingly controlling a dangerous situation on the edge of his own box, Jamie McCormack miss timed his pass back to goalkeeper Calvin Hare and Kieron Freeman nipped in to place his shot into the bottom right corner to make it 2-0.
As the game progressed towards half time, Latics had their best chance with McCormack making a sensational run from defence to attack, chipping a shot onto the top of the net after latching onto a Callum Morris pass at the keepers’ front post.
Soon after the break the home side put Latics in a desperate situation when Davies scored his second of the game after drifting off his marker at the back post and tapping in Freeman’s deep cross from the right.
Latics weren’t for backing down from the fight though and after pushing hard to claw a goal back, Morris provided the finishing touch with a well struck shot from inside the area.
Derby failed to clear their lines from a corner and after McCormack looped the ball back into the danger zone after receiving it deep at the back post, Derby keeper Saul Deeney misjudged his punch.
The ball fell to Morris who chested the ball down and lashed it back across a box full of bodies into the top corner of the net.
Seven minutes later Derby restored their three goal lead when Mark O’Brien’s front post header was flicked in past the goalkeeper as the defender lost his man from Freeman’s corner.
Once again Latics refused to lie down for their hosts and with just over 20 minutes left Morris won a free kick right on the edge of the Derby penalty area.
Up stepped Adam Buxton, confident and calm to drive the free kick low, hard and through the wall, fooling Derby stopper Deeney as the ball nestled in the net for 4-2.
From then on Latics dominated as Derby tried to contain the onslaught of attacking play.
Two minutes after Buxton’s free kick substitute Jesjua Angoy had a shot blocked inadvertently by fellow sub Guillermo Andres as it looked to be heading towards goal.
The opportunities continued until half time but, each time Latics looked to be in on goal Derby defenders would throw their bodies in the way to block.
Despite the undying effort from Latics to salvage a result, the home side sat and soaked up the pressure to frustrate their visitors and see the game out at 4-2.
Derby: Deeney, Naylor, Hoganson, Sellars (Dales 50), Gjokaj, O’Brien (Lelan 74), Freeman, Hendrick (Adams 50), Tyson, Bennett, Davies
Unused Subs: Morch, Wixted
Latics: Hare, Morris, Lynch, Buxton, McCormack, Langley, Watson, Chow, Bingham (Andres 64), Sumner (Angoy 64), Sheego (Orsula 38)
Unused Subs: Cottrill, Phillips