Brave Latics exit the FA Youth Cup in extra-time against Manchester City.
- Callum Lang gave Will Ryder’s side a second-half lead but City fought back.
- William Patching, Lukas Nmecha and Isaac Buckley-Ricketts on the mark for City.
- Latics’ history-making FA Youth Cup run over after valiant effort.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 1
MANCHESTER CITY 3
Nmecha (pen) 105+5
Wigan Athletic’s under-18 side were brave, heroic and tenacious but they exited the FA Youth Cup at the fifth round stage on Tuesday evening at the DW Stadium as Manchester City ran out 3-1 winners after extra-time.
Callum Lang’s fine solo goal gave Latics a second-half lead but City fought back with a fine free-kick from William Patching, a Lukas Nmecha penalty and late strike from Issac Buckley-Ricketts.
Latics will take immense pride from going toe-to-toe with City, against all the odds, for 120 minutes but now their focus will return to their league campaign.
The early stages saw little events of note, Nmecha moved in behind Latics’ defence took a fine touch before lobbing Kelland Absalom only for Arnie Baxendale to make a last-ditch goal-line clearance.
As the quarter-hour passed, good play from Luke Burgess and James Barrigan down the right forced a corner and a well-worked routine saw Alex Lingard’s take headed back across goal invitingly by Josh Gregory, though City keeper Daniel Grimshaw claimed.
The remainder of the half saw neither side create chances of note with both Absalom and Grimshaw relatively untested as the battle in midfield was won by Latics, though their tenacity meant the final touch was just evading them in the final third.
Five minutes into the second-half, though, and Latics were ahead as Lang chased the ball into the channel, hooked over Tosin Adarabioyo and took control in front of teammate Sang before crashing past Grimshaw.
City were level on 65 minutes, though, as a foul by Chris Merrie on Jacob Davenport 22 yards from goal resulted in Patching curling a beautiful free-kick over the wall and beyond Absalom.
Naturally, City’s elite players were lifted by the goal and Brahim Diaz showed a moment of class as he weaved into the area beyond two Latics challenges before forcing a near post save from Absalom.
Latics didn’t just set their sights on extra-time, though, and Josh Gregory fired inches wide from a Barrigan knock down 25 yards from goal with Grimshaw beaten.
The same two players combined six-and-a-half minutes from the end to create another opportunity as Barrigan broke down the left from Gregory’s pass, though the former’s shot from the angle was comfortable for Grimshaw.
City’s intricate play in and around the penalty area had the 600+ crowd on edge and substitute Isaac Buckley-Ricketts nearly made it 2-1 as the ball broke into his path and he fired against the outside of Absalom’s left-hand post.
Buckley-Ricketts then missed the most comfortable of opportunities to give City the lead three minutes from time as he evaded the challenge of Sam Stubbs in the area and fired over from ten yards when one-on-one with Absalom.
The visitors should have wrapped the game up with seconds of the minimum three added minutes remaining but Diaz somehow found a way to slide wide from six yards from Buckley-Ricketts’ cross.
A golden moment nearly graced the DW Stadium in the final seconds of injury time as substitute Thomas Powell, a first-year scholar, headed straight at Grimshaw from Lingard’s free-kick when well-placed from seven yards.
The first period of extra-time saw City take control and it was only a fine last-ditch challenge by Lingard, who was struggling with an injury, that denied Nmecha a glorious chance.
More warrior-like defending kept the score level at half-time in extra-time as Stubbs threw his body on the line to deny Buckley-Ricketts at close range.
Latics did their best at the other end to go ahead as Gregory’s sublime reverse pass found Lang in the area but the midfielder, after avoiding two City challenges, saw his effort blocked on the line by Erik Sarmiento.
In the third minute of the first-half of extra-time, Latics were dealt a killer blow as Absalom brought down Nmecha in the area and the striker picked himself up to convert the spot-kick.
Latics sent bodies forward in search of a desperate late equaliser and that left space in behind for Diaz on the break but he was denied a third goal for City by a wonderful Absalom save.
Right back Baxendale broke forward late on and went into the area with purpose but fired his left foot strike over the bar.
A moment of sheer class brought proceedings to an end as Nmecha turned provider with a glorious pass before Buckley-Ricketts finished with composure from close range.
Latics: Absalom, Baxendale, Lingard, Gregory (Beaumont 115), Burke, Stubbs, Burgess (Plant 110), Lang, Sang (Powell 86), Barrigan, Merrie.
Subs not used: Roberts, Taylor.
Manchester City: Grimshaw, Duhaney, Humphreys-Grant, Adarabioyo, Sarmiento, Davenport, Nemane (Buckley-Ricketts 61), Kongolo (Wood 118), Nmecha, Patching, Diaz.