Latics miss out on Youth Alliance title.
- Latics face narrow 1-0 defeat away to Rochdale.
- Bury claim Youth Alliance title by one point.
- Second half push to equalise not enough.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 0
Latics' Under 18s missed out on the Youth Alliance league title by just one point after a narrow away defeat to Rochdale at Radcliffe Borough handed leaders Bury the crown on the final day of the campaign.
Harry Pratt broke Latics' hearts just a minute before half time, and despite a strong opening and dominant late push in the second half, Peter Atherton's side couldn't find their way through in a game which would have seen them claim the league title should they have drawn.
Latics' 23 game unbeaten streak in the competition was also ended on a tough afternoon, but they remain in the hunt for silverware, with the Lancashire FA Cup Final on Saturday against Tranmere Rovers.
It was a fast start to proceedings in the sunshine at Radcliffe, with Owen Evans called up inside the third minute to deny Rochdale striker Nyal Bell, and at the other end defender Reece McNally nodded just wide from a corner.
Minutes later Louis Robles was threaded through on goal by Adrian Purzycki, but despite taking the ball under control with his first touch, Robles could only poke the ball at goalkeeper Rhys Lovett.
The game hadn't even reach the 15th minute when Callum Lang was sent racing in down the right, but with two team mates to his left he tried to slide it under Lovett who made a smart save to push it wide for a corner.
Lang came close again in the 24th minute when a flick on from Robles allowed him to smash a volley towards the top right corner, only to find the side netting.
Rochdale began to have their say as the half drew to a close, and they punished Latics with just a minute to play when the ball broke free to Pratt on the edge of the area, hammering a right footed effort past Evans to give his side the lead.
The second half was a mixed bag for Latics, with Rochdale slowing play down and getting men behind the ball, but Atherton's side did muster a flurry of chances, the first of which was the closest when Purzycki hit the foot of the left post after the keeper spilled a cross under pressure from Sam Cosgrove.
James Barrigan was introduced just after the hour mark and set up Lang for another good opportunity not long after, this time the keeper pulled off smart save down to his left as the ball headed for the bottom corner.
As Latics upped their push to get men forwards, Rochdale began to catch them off guard, missing a clear-cut opportunity at the back post, before Evans was forced into a fantastic, one-handed save to keep his side in the game with just two minutes on the clock.
Latics pushed and pushed to grab that all important equaliser, but their final chance was just a yard over the cross bar as Cosgrove volleyed under pressure.
The final whistle signalled a triumph for Bury, but a gallant effort from Latics' Under 18s in a long and hard working campaign.
Latics now move on to their final fixture of 2014/15 when they host the Lancashire FA Cup Final on Saturday against Tranmere Rovers.
Rochdale: Lovett, Price, Schorah, Berry, Hollins, Kisimba, Pratt, Smalley, Bell, Hooper, Hasler-Cregg
Subs: Morley, Prescott, Stewart
Latics: Evans, Burke, Lingard (Baxendale 87), Gregory, Anson, McNally, Lang, Purzycki, Cosgrove, Robles, Lambert (Barrigan 62)
Unused Subs: Absalom, Merrie, Sang