First half Harrison strike seals points in scrappy game.
- Latics make it 15 games unbeaten in league with 1-0 win.
- Sean Harrison's first half strike downs Walsall.
- Good character on show in scrappy second half.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 1
Latics continued their impressive unbeaten run in the Football League Youth Alliance on Saturday with a determined 1-0 victory over fourth place Walsall moving them to within just two points of league leaders Bury, with a game in hand.
Sean Harrison's 33rd minute goal was taken with the technique of a centre forward as he turned to fire home from the edge of the area, extending Latics' current run to 15 games without defeat in the league, their last defeat coming in September in the reverse fixture against the Saddlers.
Latics were forced to play the game on the 4G pitch at Robin Park Arena due to water-logging at the main venue, and with an hour and 15 minute delay until the eventual kick off at 12.15pm, a steady start to the game was welcomed by coach Peter Atherton.
Neither team created much in the way of goal scoring opportunities in the opening exchanges, but Latics managed the crucial goal just after the half hour mark.
The ball broke to Harrison in the second phase of a set piece, and the centre back swivelled on the ball like seasoned-goal scorer to power it home from 18 yards.
After half time the scrappy battle continued, conditions playing their part as the high winds whipped across the pitch.
Latics competed well at both ends of the pitch, with goalkeeper Owen Evans called upon twice to keep Walsall from equalising, and Louis Robles forcing a stunning save from the Saddlers' stopper.
It was a combative defensive display as the game drew to a close, and U18s coach Atherton praised his side for their efforts, especially taking into account the outside influences on the afternoon.
"The lads had to keep their heads from the off because of the delay to kick off. Some of our players were a little over-hyped come kick off, but they controlled that and we eventually took the lead thanks to a great finish from Sean.
"It was definitely a scrap in the second half and the judgement at the back and up front in the wind was very good considering. It's a great win for us against a very good Walsall side who were the last team to beat us in the league."
Latics: Evans, Burke, McNally, Gregory, Harrison, Lingard, Cvetkovic (Baxendale 72), Purzycki, Anson (Foukamene 90), Robles (Capt), Lambert (Barrigan 72)
Unused subs: Absalom, Bannister