Goals from Laurent and Flores secure tight win in Carabao Cup.
• Wigan Athletic beat Blackpool in Carabao Cup 1st Round
• Cook makes eleven changes
• Debuts for former academy players Evans, Merrie, Stubbs, Lang and Burgess.
• First starts for Laurent and Thomas and for Grigg since early March.
• Josh Laurent scored 16th minute opener in first start for the club
• Jordan Flores with 25 yard strike on stroke of half time
• Return to action after 12 and 18 months for Daniels and James respectively
• Peter Hartley with the Blackpool goal.
Superb goals from Josh Laurent and Jordan Flores against the team he was loaned out to last season earned Latics a place in the Carabao Cup 2nd Round after Paul Cook made eleven changes to the side and handed five debuts to Wigan academy players.
In a dramatic game at the DW, Welsh international Owen Evans was superb as he kept Blackpool at bay with a string of fine saves after they pulled a goal back from Armand Gnandouillet in the second half and Latics held on.
There was further good news as Will Grigg made his first start in a Latics shirt since early march and played 75 minutes.
Paul Cook handed first team competitive debuts to Evans and Chris Merrie plus first starts for Laurent and Terell Thomas. There was a first piece of competitive action for Donervon Daniels for a full year, since the corresponding game in the league cup last season. Reece James, for his part, made his competitive return following 18 months out, since January 2016.
Latics went in two goals to the good at the break with two clinical finishes but the visitors were left ruing missed opportunities.
Blackpool started the brighter forcing Evans into a neat save from Bright Osayi-Samuel with barely two minutes on the clock, the visitors immediately forcing four corners.
Latics almost found an opening after 12 minutes, Alex Gilbey drawing a great save from Ben Williams, who had to claw away his drive from the edge of the box after great interplay in the build-up from Jordan Flores and Ryan Colclough.
Latics did find the opening four minutes later, however and it was Laurent, in his first start for the club, who scored a fine solo effort, driving in from the right side into the box and Williams couldn’t prevent his shot from beating him at the far post, despite getting a hand to the ball.
Armand Gnadouillet forced Evans into a neat near post save on 18 minutes before Max Clayton twice went close, in the 25th and 26th minute. Evans saved the first, a low drive from ten yards, before the former Crewe and Bolton man blazed over from a corner.
The Seasiders went close again on 38 minutes, a superb free-kick from the left by Sean Longstaff met by Peter Hartley at the far post, who wasn’t able to control his effort from point blank range and the ball went over the bar.
Then, with virtually the last kick of the half, Flores produced a sublime low drive from the edge of the box that nestled into the bottom corner to double Latics’ advantage.
Gilbey saw his free-kick from the edge of the box cannon back off the wall after Grigg was fouled after 53 minutes as Latics began the half on top. Grigg was then inches away from connecting with Luke Burke’s long ball, before forcing Williams into a fingertip save after he broke down the left wing in the 57th minute.
A whisker away from 3-0 but a minute later, after Evans was called upon a to parry a drive from Osayi-Samuel, the visitors were level when the resultant corner, floated in by Andy Taylor, was forced home by Hartley.
Cook handed two further club debuts after 64 minutes, to Callum Lang and Sam Stubbs, who replaced Merrie and Thomas respectively.
Evans immediately pulled off another superb save to deny Viv Salomon-Otabor after he found himself free inside the box and drove powerfully at goal.
The debuts kept on coming, with Luke Burgess replacing Grigg on 72 minutes but it was the visitors who were forcing most of the play in search of an equaliser.
More drama in the 78th minute as Luke Burke went down with cramp and Latics having made the three changes, he had to stay on the field, Gilbey slotting in at right back as the young defender was having difficulty walking.
The visitors were inches away from equalising after 81 minutes when substitute Jamille Matt headed onto the crossbar from Longstaff’s free-kick from the left. Owen was then calmness personified when clutching onto another Matt header in the box before his angled volley flew over.
We entered four minutes of additional with the game still on a knife-edge but Latics held on to a roar of approval at the final whistle.
Latics: O Evans, Burke, Thomas (Stubbs, 64), Daniels, James, Merrie (Lang, 64), Laurent, Colclough, Gilbey, Flores, Grigg
Subs not used: Lavercombe, Perkins, Burgess, Gregory, Hunt.
Blackpool: Williams, Taylor, Aimson, Hartley, Anderton, Longstaff, Delfouneso, Clayton (Philliskirk 63), Solomon-Otabor (Richards, 85), Osayi-Samuel (Matt, 69), Gnanduillet.
Subs not used: Mafouombi, Des Pres,