Ryan Jennings’ goal the difference as Latics end home league campaign with a win.
WIGAN ATHLETIC UNDER 18s 1
BARNSLEY UNDER 18s 0
It took Latics an hour to break the deadlock in their final home game of the Professional Development League season and it proved to be crucial when Ryan Jennings finished one-on-one sealing a deserved 1-0 victory.
Latics started the game with a fast pace and continue that rhythm in various stages of the game, they could have doubled the lead late on but for Andy Mason’s header to be cleared off the line.
Goal scorer Jennings almost gave Latics the lead from kick off as he sprinted forwards to latch onto a long pass, but his powerful shot went narrowly over the bar as Barnsley goalkeeper Elliott Chadderton raced out to meet him.
Five minutes in and Latics created a second chance, this time with Joey Johnson racing through down the left and whipping a left footed effort into the side netting.
The home side were firmly on top in the first half and an opener was looking more likely as half time approached.
After the break Latics continued to attack, with Omar Thompson coming close down the right wing as he cut inside but fired over under pressure.
Just after the hour mark the visitors had a penalty shout turned down when a long ball from their goalkeeper landed at the feet of substitute Rhys Oates, only for Ellis Gibbons to muscle him off the ball in the area.
The Barnsley players wanted a penalty but Latics just got on with things and moments later they took the lead.
A smart passing move out of defence between Jamie Gibson, Luke Ainscough and Christian Mather opened the ball up for Johnson inside his own half and with a smart lobbed pass he sent Jennings on his way.
Jennings used his pace to make up ground on Barnsley defender Chris Salt and with only Chadderton to beat he tucked the ball away from the right of the area into the far corner of the goal.
Five minutes later Jennings nearly got his second when once again Johnson slipped him in down the right, this time though Salt put enough pressure on the forward and he could only squeeze his effort just wide of the far post.
With six minutes remaining Latics came agonisingly close to a second goal when Mason’s header from Mather’s corner was cleared off the line by George Smith.
After 86 minutes of rare incident for goalkeeper Michael Cottrill he then showed how ready he was to be involved when he smothered the ball at Kenna NGoma’s feet after the Barnsley man broke through the defence in an effort to equalise.
Cottrill then pulled off outstanding save after an under-hit back pass left Latics exposed, only for the keeper to dive across his six yard box and parry away Rhys Oates’ stinging effort.
A Barnsley free kick in stoppage time gave Latics reason for concern on the edge of their own area but when Smith curled the ball over the bar things were wrapped up and Latics came away with the three points.
After the game Under 18s manager John Doolan said he was pleased with the performance and the result:
"We started extremely quickly but had a bit of a lull in the first half.
"I was very impressed with the second half performance and Ryan Jennings capped it off with a great goal."
On Jennings Doolan said:
"He had a very good game today and he worked very hard.
"The goal was a great passing move in defence to start with and it was even better to see Ryan using his speed to get on the end of the pass and score."
Latics: Cottrill, Gibson, Johnstone, Mather, Gibbons, Mason, Jennings, Ainscough, Thompson, Johnson, B.Anderson (Hamilton 79)
Unused Sub: Hare
Barnsley: Chadderton, J.Anderson (NGoma 76), Smith, Moore (Sousa 69), Freeman, Shilito, Salt, Biggins, Cooke, Pilkington (Oates 59), McKnight
Unused Sub: Mackey