SHEFFIELD UNITED UNDER 18s 0
WIGAN ATHLETIC UNDER 18s 2
Goals from Christian Mather and Joey Johnson after 10 minutes were enough to seal three points and a second win of the season against Sheffield United on Saturday.
Under 18 coaches John Doolan and Joe Parkinson challenged their team to win the game and keep a clean sheet and the togetherness of the team will have pleased them no end.
With injuries in the squad Latics were made to re-shuffle the pack and rotate players into unfamiliar positions, most notably with Jamie Gibson leading the team from central defence despite naturally being a right full back.
As bright starts go Latics dazzled and within four minutes Christian Mather had opened the scoring.
Bram Johnstone and Jordan Flores worked the ball down the left side with endeavour before setting up Joey Johnson for the first of three consecutive attempts on goal.
Sheffield United threw bodies in front of his shot with the rebound falling to Matty Hamilton who also saw his shot blocked.
For the third attempt tireless midfielder Mather saw an opening and with a well-placed finish he gave the visiting Latics the opening they deserved.
Latics looked in control and started to create even more following the goal with chances for Hamilton and Johnson going astray.
Six minutes after Mather’s first goal of the season Joey Johnson added his fourth and Latics’ second of the game when he brought down a long pass from Johnstone, spinning and out-muscling his marker to bring the ball down on his chest and drive it into the bottom corner on the turn.
The quality of the finish and the strength used to battle of the defender seemed to fill Johnson with even more confidence as he continued to impress throughout the game.
Latics’ passing style has been well implemented in the team this season and against Sheffield United the result was coming along hand-in-hand as they saw out the first half to be 2-0 up at the break.
It was a scrappy start to the second half but Latics defended well as the hosts came out hard and fast to break their way back into the game.
Gibson and his fellow defenders remained solid to hold the Blades off with converted right winger Ryan Jennings playing his part in central midfield.
The disciplined second half performance showed the determination of the team to succeed and after the final whistle John Doolan admitted his delight at his team’s all round performance.
“It was great to see such a good start to the game and getting 2-0 up so early is just what we wanted.
“The pressure was always going to be there though, because there was a lot of time left in the game but I’m really impressed with the way that we dug in, especially in the second half.
“We remained a very solid unit and everyone played for each other and it is great to see that team spirit.”
Latics: Hare, Ainscough, Gibson, Gibbons (Foukamene 40), Johnstone, Mather, Jennings, Thompson (Trialist 35), Johnson, Flores, Hamilton
Unused sub: Cottrill