The curtain was raised on the Under 18 Professional Development League Two North at lunchtime but, it wasn’t quite the ideal start as Wigan Athletic Under 18s impressive first half performance fell away to a 4-1 defeat in the second.
Lively Joey Johnson drew Latics level in the first half as they looked to be taking control of the game but, a controversial goal line incident to make it 2-1 to the Foxes struck John Doolan’s side out of their stride.
Leicester came out of the blocks fast and hard with a strong physical presence but, the summer of preparation gave Latics a good chance as they worked the ball around the pitch in the passing style we’ve come accustomed to.
The home side took the lead however, after capitalising on a pass back from midfield to defence.
With the ball intercepted, the Leicester striker’s shot deflected off centre half Andrew Mason and over Michael Cottrill’s head in goal.
It wasn’t long after that 19th minute goal that Latics drew level when Johnson stroked home on 25 minutes.
An elegant move from defence to attack was rounded off by a smart one two between Omar Thompson and scorer Johnson who was cool and calm in the finish.
Control of the game swung in favour of Doolan’s side and just before half time, Latics should have been ahead.
Midfielder Patrick Christian closed down the Leicester defence, forcing an error which put Thompson through on goal with just the keeper to beat.
His thunderous effort would have provided a spectacular finish but the cross bar said otherwise as it shuddered, leaving the half time scores at 1-1.
The second half was a similar story of play.
Latics passed the ball well but found themselves on the end of sucker punches and mistakes which lead Leicester to take advantage.
Five minutes after kick off a goal mouth scramble ensued which lead the referee to award the hosts a goal despite furious protests from the young Latics.
It was another 25 minutes until the Foxes got their third and it came after a period of positive Latics play.
The goal came from a corner as two attackers outnumbered the full back and Leicester capitalised with a header at the front post.
From the kick off Latics lost possession as the ball was intercepted in midfield and spread out wide, the ball from the right wing into the box was undefended and tapped in at the back post.
Despite the result, Under 18 manager Doolan was happy with the style and effort against a physical side.
“We passed the ball well in the first half and towards the end of it we had a golden chance to go ahead.
“The impact of the second goal and the nature of it being a dubious one shocked the players.
“We’ve worked hard during the summer and it will pay off in time, we have just got to adjust to physical teams because technically we have been very good.”
Latics team: Cottrill, Gibson, Johnstone, Mason, Wilson, Christian (Ainscough 75), Meadows, Kerwin, Thompson, Johnson (Leigh 80), Anderson (Hamilton 75)
Unused subs: Hare, Gibbons