Tough test for young Latics against experienced Stoke.
- Latics beaten 5-2 by heavily experienced Stoke outfit.
- Potters qualify for semi-final of the Final Third Development League Cup.
- Sam Cosgrove and Louis Robles on target for Latics.
STOKE CITY 5
Joselu 20, 34, 55
WIGAN ATHLETIC 2
It was a challenging afternoon for Latics as they faced a Premier League test against Stoke City, with the hosts, who boasted seven first team players, winning 5-2 thanks to a hat-trick from Joselu, and goals from Ollie Shenton and Mame Diouf.
Latics, who battled hard against their top-flight counterparts, including Charlie Adam, Steve Sidwell, Phil Bardsley and Peter Odemwingie, grabbed a couple of deserved goals, with Sam Cosgrove's tidy finish in the first half and Louis Robles' 73rd minute strike as he followed in a saved penalty.
Stoke's victory saw them progress into the semi-final of the Final Third Development League Cup, with Latics eventually finished third in Group C ahead of Wrexham.
After a couple of early scares from blocks by Sidwell and Diouf, Latics were bright, moving the ball well from midfield into wide positions, with the first genuine chance of the game falling for second year apprentice James Barrigan.
A clearance from Owen Evans found the chest of Cosgrove dropping just inside his own half, he played it back for Adrian Purzycki who found Danny O'Brien wide right, with the winger's cross from the by-line guided narrowly wide of the right post.
Latics were tested at the back, with passes from experienced heads in midfield threatening to split the defence, but the combination of Jack Hendry and Adam Anson seemed to be holding firm, the latter stopping Diouf from a clear run on goal when he cut out Shenton's slipped pass.
When Stoke did find a gap 12 minutes in, Evans was on hand to deny Joselu from point blank range, denying the former Real Madrid forward with his feet.
The Potters' multi-million pound summer signing eventually pushed his side in front, volleying in Bardsley's cross from the edge of the area, just three minutes after O'Brien flashed an effort over the Stoke bar.
Stoke started to push, and with a goal behind them they grew in confidence, Diouf striking the post, with Shenton doubling the lead just two minutes later from Sidwell's pass into the area.
Joselu added his second of the game in the 34th minute picking up on a loose ball on the edge of the area after Liam Langford had denied Diouf a clear shot on goal. The Spanish forward struck first time to find the bottom right corner.
The midfield duo of Purzycki and Barrigan were forced into an intriguing scrap with Adam and Sidwell, matching the pair on a number of occasions and combining to allow Cosgrove to pull one back just before half time.
First, Barrigan won the ball back from Bardsley high down the left, before Purzycki put in a solid challenge on Adam on the edge of the area to release the ball for Cosgrove. The forward dodged into the area, faking two shots, before driving the ball across the keeper and into the bottom right corner.
Latics were matching Stoke stride-for-stride in the opening 10 minutes, but fell foul to Joselu's hat-trick strike, the forward turning in the area to make it 4-1 from Bardsley's centre.
After digging in to deny Stoke a fifth, Cosgrove came close to pulling a second goal back for Latics when he advanced down the right side, only for his cross towards a goal-bound Robles to by cut out by goalkeeper Dale Eve.
At the other end Latics' keeper Evans made a string of good second half saves, the first just after the hour mark to deny Joselu his fourth of the afternoon.
Substitute Reece McNally almost pulled a goal back for Latics just minutes after entering the contest. Fellow sub Chris Merrie combined with Barrigan down the left, before slipping McNally into the area and almost in on goal, but the ball wouldn't drop from a half-block by Lewis Banks.
Latics did grab a deserved second goal after forceful attacking work down the left, which forced Bardsley to clumsily bundle Robles over inside the area.
The striker stepped up to take the spot kick, but saw his effort denied by Eve, luckily for Robles the ball rebounded back to him for a simple close range finish.
Stoke upped their game heading into the final 10 minutes, capitalising on a mistake at the back to add a fifth goal, Diouf racing through down the right and finding the bottom corner for 5-2.
Latics were denied a chance to claim a third goal when O'Brien looked to be through on goal down the right, only for the referee to call play back for a free kick, booking Bardsley for a late challenge on substitute Callum Lang.
Evans remained on his toes to keep Stoke at five, first denying Dominic Telford from a tight angle, before tipping a Diouf effort around his left post on the stroke of full time.
Speaking after the game, coach Peter Atherton shared his thoughts on a testing afternoon:
"We're disappointed with some aspects of the performance, but very pleased with others in what was ultimately a good learning experience for the lads.
"We've come up against a side with Premier League quality pretty much throughout their starting line-up. I told the lads to go out an enjoy themselves, and I think they did that despite the score line.
"Some of the goals we conceded were avoidable, and I thought we showed quality in the final third that probably warranted another goal or two. The lads will learn a lot from today, and for the younger players like Chris Merrie, Callum Lang and Josh Beaumont who came on, it's an excellent experience as first year apprentices coming up against seasoned Premier League professionals."
Stoke: Eve, Bardsley, Taylor, Sidwell, Banks, Wilson, Odemwingie, Adam, Joselu, Diouf, Shenton (Telford 78)
Unused Subs: Pringle, Isted, Lecygne, O'Reilly
Latics: Evans, Burke, Langford (McNally 65), Purzycki (Beaumont 85), Anson, Hendry, O’Brien, Barrigan (Lang 81), Cosgrove, Robles, Lingard (Merrie 68)
Unused Sub: Absalom