Youth Alliance opener ends in narrow defeat.
- Latics defeated 2-1 away at Blackpool in season opener.
- James Barrigan on target from penalty spot.
- 'Encouraging signs' says U18 coach Will Ryder.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 1
Latics' opening fixture of the 2015-16 Football League Youth Alliance ended in a narrow 2-1 defeat away to Blackpool on Saturday, with the hosts grabbing their goals in crucial moments early on in the first half and late on in the second, as James Barrigan got himself off to a goal scoring start for Latics from the penalty spot.
A change of venue from Blackpool to Lytham St. Annes proved tough for Latics to adjust to, with the combination of a tight pitch and physical opposition pushing them to their limits.
Four of Latics' new intake of scholars started the match, with Josh Beaumont and Jack White in defence, Remell Fitton in midfield and Nathan Randell up front.
The young Tangerines found themselves ahead inside just three minutes when pressure on Latics' defence allowed Rowan Roache to steal possession and slot home beyond Kelland Absalom.
It was far from the ideal start for Latics, who came runners-up in 2014-15, but their response was to be admired and inside the opening 20 minutes they grabbed a deserved equaliser.
Callum Lang broke through the back line with the keeper to beat, and as he tried to swerve around the out-rushing stopper he wasn't tumbled to the ground. Penalty said the referee.
Barrigan stepped up calmly and confidently delivered to pull Latics back to 1-1.
The chances continued as the first half grew, with Barrigan close to a second when he diverted White's cross onto the post.
Latics came out and dominated second half possession, making it count in dangerous areas with a number of opportunities, only to see the ball turned off the line three times.
Another missed opportunity soon followed when Lang had a goal ruled out for offside.
Latics were hit with a sucker punch eight minutes from time, Blackpool's Pond taking advantage with his side's first effort of the half flying into the top corner for 2-1.
The final 10 minutes or so became a scramble as Latics looked to claim something from the season opener, but it wasn't to be as the hosts held on for all three points.
Speaking after the match, Under 18 coach, Will Ryder commented:
"We were disappointed with the result because in the second half we really got going and were unfortunate with some of the missed chances.
"Blackpool will take a lot of points off teams this season, they're a physical and direct side who I thought we stood up against throughout the 90 minutes.
"The first years will take some adjusting to the pace of the game at this level, but I was very impressed with what I saw all over the pitch."
Latics: Absalom, Burke, Baxendale, Beaumont, Lingard, White, Gregory, Fitton (Burgess 74), Lang, Barrigan, Randell (Sang 67)
Unused subs: Roberts (GK), Powell, Taylor