Latics claim back-to-back Lancashire FA Youth Cup crowns, adding to their EFL Youth Alliance title.
- Academy Report: Latics 5 Preston North End 2.
- Charlie Jolley (2), Jensen Weir and Victor Maffeo (2) with the goals.
- Latics win the Lancashire FA Youth Cup for the second year in a row.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 5
Jolley 21 (pen), 28 (pen)
Maffeo 78, 85
PRESTON NORTH END 2
The silverware was gleaming in the Lancashire sunshine on Saturday afternoon, as Latics' five-star Under 18s claimed their second trophy of an extraordinary campaign, beating local rivals Preston North End 5-2 to earn their second consecutive Lancashire FA Youth Cup.
Charlie Jolley netted twice from the spot, Jensen Weir headed in a third and Spanish full back Victor Maffeo scored two in the second half to see of a feisty North End side at the County Ground in Leyland.
It was typical of this young Latics side under the guidance of Peter Murphy, Gregor Rioch and their team, with the five goals taking the seasonal tally to 118 goals in 36 matches and that's with four games still to play.
As is expected this season, talisman forward Jolley broke the deadlock, the top scorer knocking in his fifth of the competition and 28th of the season for the Under 18s when he converted from the penalty spot having been tumbled to the ground to earn the kick.
Six minutes later, Jolley was fouled a second time in the area after some clumsy defending. Brimming with confidence from his superb campaign and opening goal, Jolley thumped in his second spot kick of the game to take his competition tally to six goals, his U18 tally to 29 goals and his combined Academy tally to 38 goals in all competitions.
Against the run of play, Preston pulled a goal back when Adam O'Reilly hammered home from outside of the area, but straight back up at the other end, Joe Gelhardt's trickery and power saw him cut a pass back for MacKenzie O'Neill, only for the Northern Ireland youth international to side foot agonisingly wide of the right post.
Gelhardt himself took centre stage before the half was out. Mitchell Culshaw, who captained the side for the day, beat the left full back and clipped in the perfect cross for Gelhardt, only for the forward's header to come back off the cross bar, it allowed him to have another headed effort which again bounced back off the bar, before his third header was clutched out of the air by the Preston keeper on the line.
Two minutes after the break Latics extended their lead back to two goals when centre back Emeka Obi and England youth international midfielder Jensen Weir exchanged headers in the area, with the latter looping his into the right corner for 3-1.
Despite creating more chances than their counterparts, Latics were pegged back for the second time, with Preston's Jack Baxter cutting the lead to one goal when he scored from inside his own half from a quick free kick.
There was little to fear though, with Maffeo taking matters into his own hands with 12 minutes to play, darting inside from the right and whipping a left footed shot into the bottom left corner for 4-2.
With five minutes to play, Maffeo was at it again. The defender whipped a free kick over Preston's wall and into the bottom right corner to seal the deal for Latics in the beating sunshine.
Celebrations at the end were much deserved and for the second year running, it was Latics who lifted the LFA Youth Cup at Preston's expense.
Two trophies and the Under 17s' Clarets Cup have been acquired so far, but there's a fourth on the horizon for Latics, with our young charges travelling to Exeter City on Tuesday 30 April for the EFL Youth Alliance Cup final at the Grecians' St. James' Park.
Latics: Jones, Maffeo, Galvin, Obi, Long, Smith, Culshaw (Capt), Weir, C.Jolley (Joseph 83), Gelhardt (Berry 86), O'Neill (Broe 88)
Unused subs: Tickle, H.Jolley