Superb strikes from Donaghey and Berry secure heroic last ditch FA Youth Cup victory at Exeter City
- Latics beat Exeter City at St James Park in FA Youth Cup 3rd Round
- Latics to play Southampton at home in 4th Round
- Shane Donaghey and James Berry with spectacular goals
EXETER CITY 1
WIGAN ATHLETIC 2
Wigan-born substitute James Berry made an unforgettable start to his career as a Latics player after scoring a 25 yard winner in the 118th minute to secure an FA Youth Cup 4th Round home match against Southampton – just one day after signing for his home-town club.
The 16 year old striker from Winstanley, a Latics fan who had been at the Liverpool Academy since the age of 7 and was only released this week, signed as an apprentice at Wigan Athletic yesterday, receiving clearance to play in the game only hours before kick off.
Yet he came off the bench in the 70th minute to make a dream debut, scoring the winning goal just as it looked as if exhausted Latics would crumble under near incessant pressure from the home side.
Earlier in the match, Shane Donaghey had made Latics pressure tell when an equally sweet volley from the edge of the box had drawn the sides level with nine minutes of normal time remaining.
Theo Robert in the Latics goal was called upon to make two crucial saves, one in the final minutes of normal time and another just as the game approached half-time in extra time.
It seemed that Exeter, who had opened the scoring with a fine finish after 25 minutes when Jack Sparkes finished neatly across Roberts, would eventually beat Latics into submission, but Sam Stubbs in the heart of defence was a rock and his sheer determination spread across the whole of the team, who simply refused to give up.
It seemed Latics were going to stumble across the finishing line and take their chances on a penalty shoot-out when Berry picked the ball up outside the box, took a touch to tee up a left foot shot and Exeter keeper Lewis Williams at full stretch wasn’t able to stop the ball from hitting the back of the net.
An understandably jubilant Head of Wigan Athletic Academy Gregor Rioch said afterwards: “It was a dream start for James, scoring for the club he’s supported all his life in the last minute of extra time. You couldn't write it.
“But this was a superb performance from the whole team, who were cramping up in extra time such was the effort they put in. Shane’s goal was fantastic as well, Theo made some superb saves, and the result just shows that sometimes willpower and desire, mixed with that little bit of quality, can take you a long way in this game.
"I need to thank Exeter's Academy Manager Simon Hayward, he was so gracious afterwards despite really hurting inside, I've no doubt. He made us so welcome all day and that's the spirit which needs to carry our game forwards. We wish him well for the season and in the future.”
Roberts, Plant (White 46), Stubbs, Taylor, Golden (Downey), Hilton, Donaghey, Merrie, Powell, Lang, Randell (Berry)