Latics through to LFA Cup final with 6-5 penalty shootout win after 1-1 draw with Preston North End
WIGAN ATHLETIC UNDER 18s 1
PRESTON NORTH END UNDER 18s 1
Kuba Kuba 21
A dramatic penalty shootout victory made it two Latics teams in a cup final this season as John Doolan's men scored all six of their spot kicks with Ryan Meadows lashing in the winner.
Latics had dropped behind in the first half when David Kuba Kuba's shot wasn't stopped by Calvin Hare but he turned hero in the shootout to save Preston's sixth penalty allowing Meadows to net the winner.
They will now face Rochdale at Spotland on May 1 in the final.
It was the second game in three days for Doolan's men having beaten Barnsley in their last home league game at Robin Park on Thursday but the physical strain didn't prove too much for them.
Despite falling behind 21 minutes in when North End full back Kuba Kuba's low shot to Hare's right sneaked into the bottom corner, Latics always looked capable of turning things around.
Eventual goal scorer Cosgrove replaced Omar Thompson at half time and added physical presence to Latics' attack, meanwhile the pace and trickery of Joey Johnson and Ryan Jennings constantly had Preston on their toes.
Ten minutes into the second half and things turned for Preston when Brandon Zibaka was given his marching order for an over-zealous challenge on Meadows which was judged by the referee to have been dangerous.
It encouraged Latics and three minutes later Jamie Gibson a shot cleared off the line from an indirect free kick inside North End's area after a back pass was picked up by goalkeeper Steven James.
Just after the hour mark Gibson came close again, this time acrobatically volleying just wide of the post.
With the pressure mounting it was only a matter of time until Latics drew level and when Johnson's thumping left footed free kick was parried by James, Cosgrove was quickest to react to bulge the net with a powerful close range finish.
Ryan Jennings known more for his pacey attacking play, turned inspirational defender when Preston's Josh Brownbill looked destined to make it 2-1 with 13 minutes remaining, but the winger leaped in front of the shot for a last ditch block.
Three minutes from time Jennings' cross was almost turned in by a Preston defender and the resulting corner was headed just wide by Meadows.
With no extra time in the LFA Cup, Latics and Preston went head-to-head in a penalty shootout.
The first nine penalties were converted with expert precision and at 5-4 to the visitors, Gibson stepped up converting an Antonin Panenka style penalty to take it to sudden death.
North End goal scorer Kuba Kuba took to the spot and Hare guessed the right way to save, putting all of the pressure on Meadows' shoulders but, the midfielder brushed himself down and thumped in the winning penalty.
After the penalty win, John Doolan said:
"We're delighted to be through to the final and we were always prepared for the penalties should they arise.
"Practising penalties is just something we do and we were confident of winning in that respect.
"It's been a difficult three days because we've had back-to-back games, so I'm really happy that the lads have something to celebrate and now we have back-to-back wins."
Johnson - Scored
Mather - Scored
Hamilton - Scored
Wilson - Scored
Gibson - Scored
Meadows - Scored
Preston North End
Thurston - Scored
Creasdale - Scored
Brownbill - Scored
Scurry - Scored
Sowerby - Scored
Kuba Kuba - Missed
Latics: Hare, Mather, Gibson, Ainscough, Wilson, Mason, Jennings, Meadows, Thompson (Cosgrove 45), Johnson, Anderson (Hamilton 86)
Unused subs: Cottrill, Gibbons
Preston: James, Kuba Kuba, Gray, Thurston, D.Forbes, Scurry, Brownbill, Creasdale, Zibaka, Sowerby, Whittington (T.Forbes 70)
Unused Subs: Scott, Quinn, Anderton, Ryan