Latics edged out in opening day goal fest.PORT VALE UNDER 18s 3
Osborne 30 (pen)
WIGAN ATHLETIC UNDER 18s 2
Latics first game of the 2013/14 Youth Alliance season ended in a narrow defeat after John Doolan's side pulled level twice in the game through a high quality Christian Mather strike and a calm finish from striker Sam Cosgrove who was later sent off.
Chances a plenty were created but Latics couldn't take advantage as the hosts grabbed a winner with 15 minutes remaining.
The opening stages of the first half were encouraging for the visiting side as forwards Cosgrove and Matty Hamilton linked up well to create a number of chances, the best of which fell to second year scholar Hamilton who rattled the cross bar from 25 yards.
Half an hour in and Latics gave themselves some work to do when Port Vale took the lead from the penalty spot after a foul by Ellis Gibbons with Elliot Osborne converting for the hosts.
An immediate response came four minutes later when Cosgrove came deep to collect the ball from Danny Leigh, laying it off to Mather on the edge of the area.
The clever midfielder turned the Valiants' defender and on the spin fired his shot into the top corner for 1-1.
Latics were behind again just two minutes into the second half when Latics' trialist goalkeeper spilled the ball on his line and Vale Luke Beesley stabbed in their second.
Another equaliser was needed and it came from the powerful Cosgrove who latched onto the end of a defence splitting Mather pass before muscling off defenders and coolly slotting the ball under the Port Vale goalkeeper for 2-2.
Unfortunately Latics were caught out again with just 15 minutes remaining when defenders Sean Harrison and Ellis Gibbons were in two minds with an injured forward in an offside position, allowing Port Vale's Nathan Smith to run through the middle an slot home a winning goal.
With 10 minutes remaining Latics were down to ten men when a two footed tackle on Cosgrove sparked a reaction from the striker who was given his marching orders.
A tough final 10 minutes prevented Latics from claiming a third equaliser of the game as the hosts held on for three points.
After the game Under 18s coach John Doolan said he saw signs of encouragement from the performance:
"I thought we did really well in the first half and we created a lot of chances but just lacked that finishing touch.
"We fell behind in the first half to a penalty which was hard to take, but the lads showed character twice to pull level and unfortunately we couldn't take advantage at 2-2.
"We've got a very young group this season and it's all about helping them learn and develop as players, we'll be working hard once again ahead of our next game."
Latics: Trialist, Leigh, Gibbons, Harrison (Anson 80), Lambert, Bannister (Merrie 75), Foukamene, Mather (Carroll-Burgess 80), Carey, Hamilton, Cosgrove
You can view the full fixture list for the Under 18s by [clicking here]