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DEVELOPMENT REPORT: PORT VALE 2 WIGAN ATHLETIC 2

16 September 2015

Latics pegged back by early second half goals in league opener.

  • Port Vale 2 Latics 2 in the Final Third Development League.
  • Danny O'Brien and Louis Robles on target in the first half.
  • Grant Holt completed 75 minutes and assisted opening goal.

PORT VALE 2
Daniel 52
Hooper 56

WIGAN ATHLETIC 2
O'Brien 22
Robles 41

Latics opened their Final Third Development League account with a point, after dropping a two-goal lead inside 11 minutes of the second half away to 2014-15 Champions Port Vale.

It was a case of four headed goals at the Vale Park Training Pitches, with Danny O'Brien and Louis Robles putting Latics 2-0 up, before Colin Daniel and JJ Hooper hit the target to earn the hosts a point.

Grant Holt's recovery took another step forwards on the afternoon, with the forward completing over 75 minutes and assisting the opening goal, his second assist in as many matches.  Holt was also at the centre of an altercation that saw Port Vale end the game with 10-men, when defender Chekaine Steele lashed out.

Latics gave their signal of intent very early on, when O'Brien struck the outside of the post with a fierce delivery through the area from a free kick.

Soon enough O'Brien was on the score sheet, with Latics' flowing football proving too much for the hosts inside the 22nd minute.

Time-after-time the front three of Holt, Robles and Sam Cosgrove had looked like causing problems.  Their presence paid off when Robles controlled the ball in the middle, finding Holt's driving run down the left, the forward crossing deep for O'Brien at the back post who headed down into the ground to beat the keeper from close range.

Four minutes later O'Brien almost turned provider when his cross was met by Cosgrove, but pressure from behind forced the striker to turn the ball just over the cross bar.

Latics had to call upon goalkeeper Owen Evans to keep them ahead just after the half an hour mark, the Wales youth international tipping away Hooper's header, before Daniel followed up the parry only to hit the underside of the bar.

Back on top minutes later, Latics doubled their lead when O'Brien's corner found the head of Robles from close range, the forward grabbing his fourth goal in just two matches after his hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers in the Lancashire FA Cup.

Latics came under some intense pressure at the start of the second half, but could have found themselves 3-0 up inside the first five minutes when Cosgrove closed down the last defender and goalkeeper to block a clearance, only to have his effort saved by Sam Johnson in the Port Vale goal.

Two minutes later and the Valiants pulled a goal back when a high cross into the area was headed home by Daniel.

Latics restarted and once again came close to a third goal, this time Holt's effort from O'Brien's cross was sent over the bar.

Port Vale were level in the 56th minute with the fourth headed goal of the match, this time Hopper was on the end of a corner to equalise.

Latics battled to regain control as the second half continued, and when the Valiants went down to ten men due to Steele being sent off for retaliation against Holt, Peter Atherton's side edged closer to a crucial winning goal.

A succession of corners almost had Latics back in front, only for O'Brien's delivery to be punched off the line, Cosgrove's back post effort blocked and then a second O'Brien delivery glanced wide off a Vale defender.

The battle between last season's top two sides ending in a 2-2 draw.

Speaking at full time, coach Peter Atherton reflected on the game:

"We started really well, we had good intensity and we dominated the ball in positive areas.

"The patterns of play were excellent which led to a number of chances and we deserved to go in 2-0 up at half time.

"Unfortunately we started slowly in the second half, invited too much pressure and ultimately suffered with two goals from crosses into the box.

"We rallied well after conceding the two goals and the lads dug in to make sure we got at least a point.

"It was a young team today and a good learning experience, particularly for Arnie (Baxendale), Luke (Burke) and Alex (Lingard) who impressed me throughout.

"Grant Holt's presence was top class again, not only is it a benefit to him getting almost 80 minutes under his belt, but his experience is invaluable in helping the younger lads to learn."

Port Vale: Johnson, Steele, Deen-Conteh, Lloyd, Reeves, McGivern, Birchall, Brown, Daniel, Hooper, Kelly
Unused Subs: Pickering, Turner, Faulkner, Gibbins, Morris

Latics: Evans, Baxendale, Lingard, Bauress, Purzycki, Burke, O'Brien, Hamilton, Holt (Barrigan 79), Cosgrove, Robles
Unused Subs: Absalom, Stubbs, Bannister


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