Stubbs header secures third round place in confident display.
- Latics command cup tie against Burton to progress in Youth Alliance Cup.
- Sam Stubbs header gives Latics 1-0 victory at Robin Park.
- Burton stopper denies Latics on multiple occasions to keep score down.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 1
BURTON ALBION 0
Latics more than earned their place in the third round of the Football League Youth Alliance Cup on Saturday, with a dominant performance helping them to a 1-0 victory over Burton Albion, thanks to a Sam Stubbs header early in the second half.
The 1-0 score line might not be an obvious sign of Latics' control during the 90 minutes, but the volume of chances created and dominance in possession certainly gave Will Ryder's side a confident demeanour.
The young Brewers arrived at Robin Park Arena unbeaten and as one of the top sides in the Youth Alliance North East, but they were no match for a Latics side who are clearly enjoying their football.
It didn't start out that way though, as Latics were forced to show their defensive resolve inside the opening 10 minutes, when the referee awarded the visitors an indirect free kick for a pass back 10 yards from the goal line, only for the huddle of players on the line to do their duty and block the resulting shot.
Latics were defensively sound throughout the contest, with captain Luke Burke dominant in his aerial battles in a mature display.
After 19 minutes Latics started their tally of opportunities, the first one which saw James Barrigan spin and flick the ball over the last defender for Callum Lang to run onto, only for the forward to see his volley pushed into the air by Burton keeper Charlie Hornby.
Right back Arnie Baxendale enjoyed 90 minutes of freedom down the right side, beating Burton's left back on almost every occasion, the first of which saw him feed Nathan Randell into a crossing position, with his forward partner Barrigan denied from a header at the near post by an excellent reaction save from Hornby.
Just after the half an hour mark Latics were dealt a scare when Kelland Absalom's clearance was closed down in his own box, but a combination of the goalkeeper's quick reaction and Burke's endeavour to help him recover denied Marcus Dinanga.
A minute later and Hornby was denying Barrigan once more, this time a near post flick was pushed behind from Baxendale's corner.
Hornby frustrated Barrigan for a third time in the 38th minute, turning the forward's right footed effort from 20 yards around the post.
Latics pushed and pushed, but couldn't find the opening goal in the first 45 minutes, with Lang's overhead kick just a yard over the cross bar, as was Randell's fierce right footed half volley from distance after clever link up play between Barrigan and Chris Merrie.
The latter began another flurry of chances at the beginning of the second half, with the opening goal surely just a matter of moments away.
Almost from kick off Barrigan darted down the right, pulling the ball back to Merrie who fizzed a shot from distance just past the right post.
Within the next 10 minutes Latics were relentless in their efforts to open the scoring, first Baxendale had a shot deflected wide, then Barrigan had a back heel cleared off the line.
Both were then involved in possibly the chance of the half, with the wing back forcing his way down the right, only for Barrigan and Lang to narrowly miss the inviting low ball across the face of goal.
Baxendale repeated the exact same run minutes later, this time flashing a right footed effort across the keeper and inches wide of the left post.
Latics finally broke the Burton resolve in the 56th minute when Alex Lingard's corner found the head of a determined Sam Stubbs who powered the ball towards the bottom right corner, with Lang doing enough to put the defender on the line off as the ball rippled the net. A deserved goal for Latics' efforts.
Five minutes later and Latics' chances continued, this time Lang's hit a spectacular right footed effort from distance into the side netting.
Burke came close with an overhead kick from a corner, and once again Merrie shot just wide from distance, whilst Barrigan had a shot blocked from the edge of the area after clever build up from Matty Rimmer.
Luke Burgess and Chris Sang were introduced in the 76th minute for Lang and Randell, with Burgess just a yard or so away from connecting with a Lingard cross minutes after coming on.
Both substitutes had opportunities in the closing stages, with Sang firing over from the edge of the area, and Burgess sending a shot ambitiously wide of the right post from 40 yards, after the Burton keeper lost position near the half way line.
Inside eight minutes of added time, Baxendale showed his endless energy with another bullish run down the right, with the wing back hard done by as the Burton defender had a handful of his shirt inside the penalty area, only for a corner to be awarded.
It was to be the last significant action of an enjoyable watch, as Latics booked their place in the next round.
Speaking after the victory, Head of Academy Gregor Rioch said he was delighted with Latics' control of the game:
"We were excellent for the full 90 minutes. We should have scored more goals that's obvious from the number of chances we created, but their goalkeeper had a very good game and we came very close on a number of occasions.
"The performance was very enjoyable to watch, defensively we competed really well, especially up against a physical forward.
"It's a shame the score line doesn't speak more for the performance, but we're very happy with how we played and delighted to be in the next round."
Latics: Absalom, Baxendale, Lingard, Burke (Capt), Stubbs, Beaumont, Merrie, Rimmer, Randell (Sang 76), Barrigan, Lang (Burgess 76)
Unused subs: Roberts, Forecast, Taylor