Latics reach the final of the Lancashire FA Youth Cup following convincing 5-0 win over Rochdale at Christopher Park.
- U18 Match Report: Latics 5 Rochdale 0.
- Charlie Jolley nets twice as Latics thrash Dale on the way to the LFA Youth Cup final.
- Luke Robinson, Will McGuffie and Joe Gelhardt amongst the goals.
C.Jolley 61, 90
Latics' Under 18s have reached the final of the Lancashire FA Youth Cup for the second consecutive year after beating Rochdale 5-0 on Tuesday afternoon.
Goals from Luke Robinson, Will McGuffie, Charlie Jolley (2) and Joe Gelhardt capped off an impressive second-half display from the hosts after a tough first-half.
Holders Latics, who beat Preston North End in last year's final, were without joint top-scorer, Kyle Joseph, who was unwell, though, the forward will be available for Saturday’s FA Youth Cup fixture against Hull City.
Latics were boosted with the return of Joe McWilliam, who returned to the squad following a long-term knee injury.
It proved to be a tense opening 20 minutes for both sides, with the reverse fixture earlier in the season being a tough test for Latics, despite coming out on top.
The hosts had the first sight of goal through Jolley, though the forward’s attempted effort was blocked after Scott Smith’s ball in-behind the Dale defence.
Latics eventually managed to find a way through the resilient visitors defence on the stroke of half-time, but Jolley’s effort was saved by the on-rushing goalkeeper.
A bright start to the second-half saw Latics finally take the lead. Robinson, who scored in the away league fixture earlier in the season, was released down the left and his cross inadvertently beat the goalkeeper to break the deadlock.
Latics took the momentum and doubled their advantage just five minutes later, Jensen Weir’s free-kick was flicked on by Gelhardt and McGuffie latched onto the loose ball to poke the ball into the net.
Gelhardt was influential again when Latics grabbed their third in the 65th minute, the England youth international cut inside and his effort was blocked before Jolley anticipated on the loose ball to dispatch the ball past the goalkeeper.
The forward’s goal was his fifth in his last four outings, with two of them coming in the previous two cup games against Lincoln City and Wolverhampton Wanderers, as well as a brace in the 4-0 victory over Blackpool in the Lancashire FA Youth Cup quarter-final.
Jolley came close to adding his second of the game with just over ten minutes to go, though his dink over the goalkeeper went narrowly wide.
Rochdale had a few chances of their own in the hope of getting back into the game, though they saw two efforts bounce back off Bobby Jones’ post.
The game was wrapped up in some style with just under five minutes to go, substitute McWilliam drove forward with the ball and found Gelhardt who beat two opposing defenders before firing his left-footed effort across goal, with the Rochdale goalkeeper well beaten.
Latics’ two goal-scorers Gelhardt and Jolley linked up again, Gelhardt with tricky feet before finding the latter in-behind, who made no mistake this time, firing his left-footed effort into the roof of the net.
Latics will face Preston North End in the final of the Lancashire FA Youth Cup which will be played on 20 April, a repeat of last year’s final in which the Latics were victorious.
Latics: Jones, H.Jolley, Robinson, Obi, Long, Smith (Capt), Weir, McGuffie, C.Jolley, Gelhardt, Baningime
Subs: Tickle, Maffeo, Berry, Galvin, McWilliam