Nine goal thriller sees Latics progress on goals scored with stoppage time winner.
- Poole scores crucial late winner as Latics progress with 5-4 win.
- Two goals for winning scorer, as Johnson, Hamilton and Cvetkovic also make their mark.
- Latics pip Fleetwood to top of Group D on goals scored.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 5
Poole 7, 90+1
Johnson 41 (pen)
Amond 1, 53
Brilliant, barmy and brave. Latics earned their spot in the knockout stages of the Final Third Development League Cup with a stoppage time winner in a nine goal thriller at Christopher Park against Morecambe.
Declan Poole was the name in lights with the crucial goal, but it was a performance whereby every single player deserved praise for digging in, as Latics progress in the group on goals scored, pipping leaders at the start of the day Fleetwood Town.
Latics fell behind twice in the first half, but equalisers from Poole and Joey Johnson allowed Matty Hamilton to give them the lead going into half time. Alex Cvetkovic made it 4-2 shortly after the restart, but goals from Padraig Amond and an 89th minute equaliser from Aaron McGowan left Latics moments from elimination.
Up stepped Poole who attacked down the right, tested his luck with a right footed effort and watched as the ball flicked up off a defender and over the goalkeeper's head to send Latics through.
The afternoon started slowly for Joe Parkinson's men, who found themselves a goal behind inside the first minute. A cross from the left side found Amond on the edge of the area, it seemed a push on defender Mayowa Balogun, but play continued as the forward slammed the ball in to give Morecambe a 1-0 lead.
Just 10 minutes later and Latics were level, a horror show in defence from the visitors, with indecision from McGowan and goalkeeper Max Povey allowing Poole to steal the ball, round the keeper and slot into an empty net for his first of the game.
Latics began to get into their groove with passing, flowing football and a number of dangerous players such as Hamilton, Johnson, Cvetkovic, Sam Cosgrove and Jordan Flores all looking for ways to give their side the lead.
After a near 30-minute spell of solid possession and a number of chances, Latics were hit with a sucker punch when Poole's slack back pass allowed Sampson a clear run on goal and a simple finish in the bottom corner. 2-1 to Morecambe.
Three minutes later and Latics were level once more, this time Cosgrove was tumbled in the box after latching onto an excellent Liam Langford pass and cutting inside, before last defender Chris Doyle brought the striker down from behind.
Only a yellow card was given despite Cosgrove staring the goal in the face, but Johnson made sure Latics would get what they deserved when he slotted the penalty low into the bottom left.
Latics found themselves ahead for the first time in the match just one minute before half time. Cosgrove received the ball on the right by-line, cutting inside to see his left footed effort deflect up over Povey's head and into the path of Hamilton on the line, the Republic of Ireland Under 21 international slamming Latics' third into the roof of the net.
The second half didn't show any signs of slowing down and within seven minutes Latics extended their lead to 4-2, when Cvetkovic grabbed his first Development Squad goal, sliding the ball over the line from close range as he got onto the end of a Flores cross.
A minute later and the goal fest continued, this time Morecambe found the net through Amond for his second of the game, a powerful, left footed effort from the inside left of the box. 4-3.
Latics dominated until the final 10 minutes, with three chances for Johnson and efforts wide from Cosgrove and substitute Louis Robles.
A flurry of free kicks put the pressure on, with Connor Keane reacting to tip a deflection over the bar as it looked to be looping in with just minutes remaining.
And then came what could have been the heart-breaking moment, an 89th minute, deflected shot from Morecambe captain McGowan found the top left corner and Latics were heading out of the cup at 4-4.
Determined not to exit the cup they won back in May, Latics fought again and came out on top. Poole gambled with a run down the right side, advancing into the area and unleashing a right footed effort which on its way to goal clipped a defender to flick the ball beyond the goalkeeper and into the top left corner.
A victory of 2-0, or any victory whereby Latics scored three goals or more would have seen them through before kick off and luckily enough for spectators at Christopher Park, they made it a spectacle and a dramatic victory to clinch top spot in Group D from the hands of Fleetwood Town.
After the game, Development Squad coach Joe Parkinson shared his delight at Latics' progression:
"We knew we needed to win by two clear goals at one stage in the game, and when we scored the late fifth to go back in front some of the lads thoughts we needed an extra goal. It turns out we progress on goals scored above Fleetwood and I'm delighted for the lads because they really deserved it."
Latics: Keane, Burke, Balogun, Poole, Langford (Harrison 68), Gregory (Purzycki 86), Cvetkovic (Robles 72), Johnson, Cosgrove, Hamilton, Flores
Subs: Evans, Lambert
Morecambe: Povey, McGowan, Thomas (Kelleher 46), Kenyon, Doyle, Edwards, Amond, Signey, Sampson (Watson 64), Mullin, Bondswell
Subs: Jones, Rigby