Latics crowned Youth Alliance champions after thumping win.
- Latics win Youth Alliance title after 3-0 win at Rochdale.
- Under 18s' victory moves them above Bury to clinch championship.
- Barrigan (2), Lang on target in comfortable victory.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 3
Barrigan (pen) 14, 16
Silverware is the order of the weekend for Wigan Athletic, after a thumping 3-0 victory away to Rochdale saw the Under 18s crowned 2015-16 North West Youth Alliance champions.
An early double from top goal scorer James Barrigan, including the opener from the penalty spot, saw Gregor Rioch's side on their way, before Callum Lang grabbed a richly deserved third shortly after with a trademark bustling run and low finish.
Latics were professional and managed the game well from then on in, rarely threatened by their hosts who came into the game unbeaten in six.
Starting the morning one point behind then leaders Bury, Latics knew they had to secure a victory to win the title on virtue of the Shakers' superior goal difference by one goal.
It was a bizarrely similar situation to the previous season, arriving at Radcliffe Borough FC for a game against Rochdale needing to win, something Latics fell short of in 2014-15, allowing Bury to win the title.
But this time around the Under 18s never looked like failing to deliver, and with the opening 15 minutes they earned the perfect chance to take the lead.
Chris Sang stood strong to battle his way down the left side before sending in what looked like a perfect cross for James Boyd to follow in, but then came a foul from behind and down went Boyd. Penalty!
There were no doubts about the decision, and no doubts about the taker either, as Barrigan stepped up confidently to convert into the bottom right corner.
A second followed just two minutes later, Boyd involved again as he clipped a near post cross from the left side for Barrigan to power home with a header inside the left post.
Latics were flying, playing with the utmost confidence and searching for more goals.
After a number of attempts Lang got himself deservedly on the score sheet, showing his strength to bustle his way through defenders down the right side, before lashing his effort across the keeper and into the bottom left corner. Latics were 3-0 up with eight minutes of the first half still to play.
Chances were a little harder to come by in the second half, but the performance and the management of the dry and difficult pitch was impressive, Latics making movements at the perfect times and conserving energy in the growing heat.
Latics continued their good work deep into the half, with Lang constantly a cause for Rochdale concern, with the forward's shirt almost ripped from neck to waist, a sign of his battling qualities.
The team held firm even when tested, but it was a rare moment at the back and easily dealt with as Arnie Baxendale flew across the box to intercept an opportunity at the left post.
Latics were well in control of the contest and the title was firmly in their sights when they introduced three substitutes in quick succession, with Nathan Randell, Jack White and Matty Taylor all brought on, the latter almost making it 4-0 late on with a driving run inside, only for his left footed effort to fizz past the right post.
The scenes were jubilant as the final whistle finally blew after six minutes of added time, a long season well worth the effort and full deserved as Latics were crowned Youth Alliance champions!
Latics: Evans, Plant, Lingard (Taylor 90+1), Burke, Baxendale, Stubbs, Boyd (Randell 84), Gregory, Sang (White 89), Lang, Barrigan
Unused subs: Roberts, Wilson