USA clean sweep as Latics too strong for battling ‘Hounds
PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS 1
Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh
Attendance 4,000 (approx. figure)
Mission USA accomplished for Latics as goals from Roger Espinoza, Emmerson Boyce and Grant Holt made it three wins in the club’s maiden voyage Stateside.
But The Pittssburgh Riverhounds made things far from easy for a Latics side who never quite reached the same levels of intensity as the first two games.
Latics manager Owen Coyle declared himself satisfied with the overall outcome, without the team possibly reaching the same levels as the other two games this week. “There were reasons for that,” he said. We’re at the end of a long hard week and there were some real tired legs out there, plus I was only able to bring on the four substitutes with a few of the players rested for the night.
“You have to give credit to the Riverhounds for the way they kept fighting and after the break they were fresher probably than us. It was certainly a good contest.
“Looking at the week overall, the players have applied themselves fabulously in really tough conditions and I couldn’t be happier with the way pre-season has gone generally.
“It’s all about peaking at the right time for August 3rd and we’re certainly on target for that. We fly back tomorrow and will be ready for Atromitus on Monday.”
After lightning delayed the start of the match by 20 minutes with bolts being seen across the skyscrapers of downtown Pittsburgh, Latics got a massive shock of their own with the game barely two minutes old. Former New York Red Bulls’ Colombian striker Jose Angulo waltzed into the box and rifled an unstoppable angled drive past Lee Nicholls into the top corner. What a start for the hosts.
But parity was soon restored. Grant Holt and Jean Beausejour tested goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap to the maximum before Roger Espinoza scored with a great drive with the outside of his left foot.
Latics went close again through Beausejour and from an audacious overhead kick by Jordi Gomez and took the lead just before the half hour mark. After Beausejour was upended rather unceremoniously by Riverhounds’ skipper Rich Costanzo on the left, Ben Watson floated in an absolute peach which Emmerson Boyce simply had to reach for it to be nodded home.
How Jordi Gomez was judged not to have been brought down in the box on the stroke of half-time was a mystery to all but the referee and there was still time for . Grant Holt to smash home only to be judged offside.
James McCarthy could have scored a few seconds into the second half but Holt did get his goal shortly afterwards, stabbing home Beausejour’s fabulous near post cross into the roof of the net.
The Riverhounds changed their entire team at the break and their fresh legs did inject some real energy into their performance. Latics responded in kind with four substitutes of their own on the hour mark, Marc Antoine Fortune, Callum McManaman, Adam Buxton and Nouha Dicko replacing McArthur, McCarthy, Holt and Beausejour.
Latics were denied another clear cut penalty when McManaman was scythed down – there really is no other way to describe the challenge – by Greg Blum but the referee incredibly booked the striker for diving. We had to remind ourselves this was only a pre-season friendly…
It was all smiles at the end as fireworks were let off from a barge in the river by the stadium and the players had an open autograph session for fans. Marks out of ten on and off the field for the USA trip 10/10.
Nicholls, Crainey, Perch, Boyce, Espinoza, Watson, McArthur (McManaman 57), McCarthy (Buxton 57), Gomez 46, Beausejour (Dicko 57), Holt (Fortune 57)
Sub not used: Pollitt