Goals galore in opening group game of the FTDL Cup.
- Latics beaten 6-3 in the opening group stage game of the FTDL cup.
- Holt played full game scoring twice, with Robles also on the score sheet.
- Cowie, Murray, Jennings and Chow all featured.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 3
Holt 20, 68
PORT VALE 6
Birchall 54, 66
It was a feast of second half goals at Christopher Park in the opening Group C fixture of the Final Third Development League Cup, as visitors Port Vale ran out 6-3 winners thanks largely to the five goals they scored in the opening 20 minutes of the second half.
Grant Holt was on target twice for Latics, from the penalty spot in the first half and with a thumping volley in the second, before setting up Louis Robles for the striker's fifth goal in three matches.
Billy Reeves gave the Valiants an early lead after a bright Latics start, before Holt equalised from the spot, only for goals from JJ Hooper, Ryan Lloyd, Colin Daniel and two from Chris Birchall to give the visitors a 6-1 advantage. Holt's volley and Robles' close range finish closed the game up slighty, but despite late chances Latics couldn't peg themselves back.
First team squad members Tim Chow, Ryan Jennings and Sean Murray got themselves minutes on the pitch, as did Don Cowie who returned for a 60 minute spell following a pre-season calf injury.
It was clear from the moment the game began that there were goals in both teams, with Latics going close as early as three minutes in, Murray's cross finding the head of Holt who nodded down for Robles, only for the striker to see his shot saved at point blank range by Ryan Boot.
After a positive start Latics found themselves on the back foot 11 minutes in, when failure to clear a corner allowed Billy Reeves to drive the ball through a group of bodies and beyond Owen Evans for 1-0.
Latics were level less than 10 minutes later thanks to some clever football and a poorly timed challenge from former midfielder Michael Brown. Holt linked up with Alex Lingard down the left, sending a pass down the left channel, and with a skip into the area Lingard was tumbled to the ground by Brown.
Holt stepped up confidently and thumped his penalty into the bottom left corner.
The initial flurry of chances and goals died down, a false dawn ahead of an action packed second half.
Murray departed at the break, with Matty Hamilton, who has recently joined Stockport County on loan, introduced.
The Valiants retook the lead less than a minute into the second half, Daniel providing a low cross from the left allowing Hooper to finish from close range.
Eight minutes later and Vale extended their lead to 3-1 when the ball dropped to Birchall on the edge of the area for a thumping right footed shot into the right corner.
On 62 minutes Latics made a double change, with Cowie and Adrian Purzycki departing for Danny O'Brien and Sam Stubbs.
Lloyd then made it 4-1 a minute after the changes, Latics failing to clear and allowing the midfielder to slide the ball home from the edge of the area.
A fifth Vale goal soon followed, this time Hooper turned provider for Daniel in a reverse of their earlier combination down the left side, another close range finish.
Another minute on the clock and another goal for the visitors, Hooper involved again as he found Birchall on the overlap down the right, for the Trinidad and Tobago international to strike across Owen Evans and into the bottom left corner.
Then came Latics' attempted fight back. Holt made his way onto the score sheet for the second time in the afternoon with a ferocious right footed volley into the bottom left corner to give Latics a glimmer of hope, but it turned into more than that, when three minutes later he set up Robles for 6-3.
O'Brien's pass down the right with the outside of his right foot found Holt out wide, with his first time cross finding Robles at close range for a tidy finish.
With just over quarter of an hour to go, Latics felt hard done by when Robles went down under Ryan McGivern's challenge in the area, only not to be awarded a penalty. Holt again involved in the build up as he darted down the left and cut the ball into the box for his strike partner.
Two minutes later Latics came close again, Hamilton, O'Brien and Robles all trying to bundle the ball home, but all denied as Port Vale held firm.
Robles and late substitute Sam Cosgrove then came with yards of goals each, with first time efforts from 12 and 18 yards flying just over the cross bar.
It wasn't to be for Latics who suffered after the early second half flurry from their visitors, who take an early lead in Group C. Latics will now go on to face Wrexham and Stoke City in the remaining two fixtures.
Latics: Evans, Chow, Lingard, Purzycki (Stubbs 62), Baxendale, Burke, Cowie (O'Brien 62), Murray (Hamilton 45), Holt, Robles, Jennings (80)
Unused sub: Absalom
Port Vale: Boot, Steele, Gibbons, Lloyd, Reeves, McGivern, Birchall, Brown, Daniel, Hooper, Kelly
Subs: Ferrie, Deen-Conteh, Faulkner, Turner, Ede