COLUMBUS CREW . . . 1
LATICS . . . . . . . . . . . 2
McCarthy 46, Fortune 63
Well-crafted goals by James McCarthy and Marc Antoine Fortune gave Owen Coyle’s Latics reign the perfect start against a side who had only once previously lost to foreign opposition.
In the searing heat of the Mid-West, Coyle was able to field six of his seven new signings – only Thomas Rogne missed out through injury – and they put in a tremendous performance, negating the threat posed by a Crew side in the middle of their season and at a physical peak.
Coyle was delighted with the application of his side and said: “The result was not the priority but it is still very nice to be able to come away with a win after just ten days of pre-season work.
“The players did exactly as they were instructed and showed professionalism, but also a real touch of quality for the goals. Now we need to build on that as we move towards August 3rd.”
After a first half in which Crew’s threat was totally negated, two of the half-time substitutions combined brilliantly after barely a minute had been played in the second period. Roger Espinoza, playing back in the city where his career begun, got in behind the Crew defence down the left hand side, receiving a great ball from Jean Beausejour. The cross to the far post was exquisite and James McCarthy, with his first touch, headed it back majestically across the face of goal into the net.
A quarter of an hour later and Fraser Fyvie – again with his first touch, sent Fortune through to poke the ball under the onrushing keeper, Daniel Withrow to double the lead.
Crew had rather bizarrely changed ten players at once a minute before and the game lost a little fluency as a result. Nevertheless, Eric Gherig’s pulled back cross was met rather fortuitously by Finley and the ball looped over Scott Carson to pull a goal back.
All of a sudden The Crew seemed to find a rhythm and Carson had to twice get down sharply to deny first Finley, then his near namesake Finlay. In truth, those were the only two occasions Carson was called into serious action and an equalizer would have been unfair for a Latics side whose quality had set them apart most of the night.
A really positive start, then and plenty of food for thought for the new manager.
Latics: Carson, Crainey, McCann (Espinoza 46), Watson (Fyvie 63), Holt (Fortune 46), Gomez (McManaman 63), McArthur (Maloney 75), Boyce, Beausejour (Dicko 63), Perch, Buxton (McCarthy 46)
Subs not used: Pollitt, Nicholls, Bingham