Latics into the fourth round after admirable display against Stevenage.
- Latics 3 Stevenage 1 in the FA Youth Cup.
- Barrigan (2) and Rimmer on target at Robin Park.
- Deserved victory sees Latics into the fourth round.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 3
Barrigan 13, 46 (pen)
Latics are safely through to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup after a professional and entertaining performance as they won 3-1 at Robin Park Arena against Stevenage, thanks to a James Barrigan double and a fine finish from Matty Rimmer.
After a tricky start whereby the visitors came out quickly, Latics soon found themselves ahead in the 13th minute, a fine finish to a brilliant team move by Barrigan. With the ball rolling, Rimmer doubled the lead four minutes later with a composed close range finish, before Barrigan claimed his second and Latics' third, from the penalty spot in the first minute of the second half.
Stevenage struck back through Luke Slater midway through the second half., but such was the imposing nature of Latics' performance, it wasn't enough to worry Gregor Rioch and Will Ryder's side, who will now host either Derby County or West Ham United in the fourth round.
Latics approached the game unbeaten in 12 and having won their last eight in a row, with the visitors winless over 90 minutes since the start of November.
After a fast paced start from Stevenage which produced a solid stop from Kelland Absalom, Latics soon took control, their flowing football and clinical finishing blowing the Youth Alliance South side away in a period of four minutes.
Inside the 13th minute Chris Merrie wriggled free in midfield after composed passing out from defence, with options ahead of him and to his left. The easier pass would have been to send the ball wide, but the midfielder spotted a gap in the defence perfectly, threading Barrigan in on goal, and on his first start back from a five-week injury, the striker clipped the ball around the keeper and into the bottom right corner.
Four minutes later and it was 2-0, another gap found and exploited as Callum Lang fed Alex Lingard down the left side. The wing back brushed past his Stevenage counterpart, firing a low cross through the box for Rimmer to slam home from 10 yards.
Rimmer came close to adding his second shortly after half time as Latics continued to search for goals, this he side footed Luke Burgess' high header wide of the right post.
Moments later Latics went even closer, this time a Lingard corner brushed inches over the head of Lang at point blank range. Another chance went begging two minutes before half time, a similar Lingard corner dropping for Sam Stubbs in the area, with the defender prodding an effort narrowly over the bar.
It couldn't get much better for Latics, being 2-0 up at the break with the fourth round beckoning... but it did!
Less than a minute into the second half and virtually from the kick off, Barrigan burst free in the area, rounding Ben Jackson, before the Stevenage keeper stuck out a trailing leg to down the striker.
Barrigan stepped up confidently to roll the ball into the bottom left corner, a cool finish for his third goal in his last two appearances.
Four minutes later the chance for a hat-trick passed the forward by, when Josh Beaumont's header dropped in the area, only for Barrigan to crack the outside of the upright.
Latics were in fine form, but Stevenage began to edge their way back into the contest, Slater providing a rare moment of quality when he darted inside from the left wing and thumped the ball beyond Absalom, the power on the shot beating the keeper.
The visitors had their best spell of the match after the goal, but when clean through on goal their substitute David Etheridge didn't bank on Latics' captain Luke Burke making a lung-bursting recovery to whip the ball from underneath his feet as he was about to take aim at Absalom's goal.
Last-ditch challenges weren't often seen on the evening, with Burke and Stubbs marshalling the defence confidently, as they had done for the previous six matches, helping to keep clean sheets in every single one.
Latics introduced Chris Sang just after the hour mark to replace Burgess, but it was fellow forward Lang who came closest to adding a fourth, beating the keeper with a shot down the right side of the area, only to see the ball turned away off the line.
A second change was made before the final 10 minutes, a forced switch which saw Barrigan limp off, with Matty Taylor his replacement.
The work rate amongst the team continued to the very end, with Latics determined not to let Stevenage grab a late goal, Lang effective in holding the ball up and frustrating his opponents.
After five minutes of added time at the end of the second half, the referee brought the game to a close, setting up a fourth round meeting with either Derby or West Ham.
Latics: Absalom, Beaumont, Lingard, Gregory, Burke, Stubbs, Rimmer, Burgess (Sang 66), Lang, Barrigan (Taylor 79), Merrie
Unused Subs: Roberts (GK), Cotter, Randell
Stevenage: Jackson, Kerr (Wilmot 55), Smyth, Croud, Boateng, Brady, Slater, Guerfi, Cregan, Yamfam, Georgiou (Etheridge 24)
UnusedSubs: Schmid (GK), O'Keefe, Dowridge