Latics put five past Shrewsbury Town in the EFL Youth Alliance as they go 12 months unbeaten in the league.
- Academy Report: Shrewsbury Town 0 Latics 5.
- Scotland youth international Kyle Joseph netted a hat-trick as Latics made it 24 games unbeaten this season.
- Latics now unbeaten in 12 months in the league, strengthening their grip on the EFL Youth Alliance.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 5
Joseph 47, 75, 85
Latics put five past Shrewsbury Town in the Youth Alliance on Saturday morning to extend their record to 12 months unbeaten in the league, with Scotland youth international Kyle Joseph collecting the match ball with a hat-trick.
MacKenzie O’Neill and Adam Long’s first-half goals put Latics in control, before a second-half hat-trick from Joseph capped off an impressive display in the return to EFL Youth Alliance action.
Latics, who faced their second away trip in a week, made two changes from their victory over Scunthorpe United in the EFL Youth Alliance Cup, with O’Neill replacing Scott Smith and Jensen Weir coming in for Divin Baningime.
The last EFL Youth Alliance game came against Carlisle United in December with goals from Joseph, James Berry and Baningime handing Latics a 3-0 away win.
Latics set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Mitchell Culshaw, Berry and O’Neill providing the support for Joseph.
The visitors had their first chance inside six minutes, their high pressure paid dividends as Will McGuffie won the ball in a dangerous area, only for Berry’s curling effort to be saved by the goalkeeper, with the forward aiming to build on his two goals last weekend.
Latics came close again just minutes later, with the ball dropping invitingly to O’Neill at the edge of the box and his drilled effort went agonisingly wide with the goalkeeper well beaten.
Shrewsbury struggled to contain Latics’ pressure inside the first 20 minutes and the best chance fell to Berry as the goalkeeper lost the ball, though the forward was unable to keep his effort on target from 10 yards out.
Though, Latics eventually took the lead just over five minutes before half-time, Joseph’s ball through was perfectly weighted for O’Neill who calmly slotted past the on-rushing goalkeeper.
Despite late pressure from the home side, Latics doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time.
Weir’s corner was flicked on by Joseph and centre back Long anticipated the ball at the back-post to smash it into the empty net.
Latics got their third almost straight after the restart. Goalkeeper Bobby Jones found Culshaw on the right along with Victor Maffeo, with the latter picking out Joseph at the back-post, his header beating the goalkeeper from close range.
Latics added their fourth of the game and surely wrapped it up on the 75th minute, Joseph latched onto a flick on in-behind the defence and his left-footed effort beat the goalkeeper.
The Scotland youth international completed his hat-trick and grabbed Latics’ fifth of the game with five minutes to spare, substitute Thelo Aasgaard’s short corner found Weir and his inviting ball was instinctively flicked into the net by Joseph, leaving the goalkeeper rooted to the spot.
Latics comfortably saw out Shrewsbury Town to extend their lead at the top of the Youth Alliance table, with Latics in action next Saturday against Bury in the Youth Alliance Cup Area final.
Latics: Jones, Maffeo (McWilliam 76), Obi (capt) ( Isherwood 76), Long, Robinson, Weir, McGuffie, Culshaw (Baningime 81), Berry, O’Neill (Aasgaard 65), Joseph.
Unused subs: C. Jolley