Wigan Athletic's Development Squad grab crucial 2-1 victory over Carlisle United at Robin Park Arena in their third group stage game of the Final Third Development League Cup.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 2
CARLISLE UNITED 1
Well taken finishes from Rob Kiernan and Ryan Jennings either side of a header from the Cumbrians' Sam Byrne sealed all three points for Latics in their third game of the Final Third Development league Cup group stage.
Kiernan gave Latics the lead early on taking advantage of a free kick delivered by Danny Redmond, but as his side looked seemingly in control they were dealt a blow when Carlisle's trialist Derek Riordan crossed for Byrne to head in an equaliser on the stroke of half time.
Individual brilliance from Jennings put Latics back in front in the second half, with what proved to be the winning goal in a dominant 45 minutes.
Juan Carlos Garcia returned from injury for his first 90 minutes since September 2013, while Jack Phillips made his first start since early in the 2012/13 campaign, putting in a creative performance as he completed the full 90 minutes.
Tough conditions in the biting cold at Robin Park weren't easy for Latics as the pitch began to cut up from the early stages, but they took no notice and began to create.
Phillips found lots of space out wide throughout the game, setting up Latics' first chance when he swung a low cross into the six yard box, with Redmond missing the cross by inches as Dean Bouzanis gratefully gathered.
On 19 minutes Latics saw a chance pay off when Redmond played in a clever free kick, fooling the defence to drop deep, with Kiernan peeling off to the penalty spot and turning the ball into the bottom right corner with a clean left footed effort.
The first half looked to be passing with no further incidents until Carlisle grabbed their equaliser when Latics shut off for the first and only time.
Riordan's clever run down the right wing and floated cross allowed Byrne to rise above Kiernan and Michael Wilson to head into the top left corner with Callum Mulby well beaten.
It was a sucker punch for Latics after a solid first half performance, but the second 45 saw them make up for conceding with out-and-out domination.
Carlisle's only spells in the final third came in the first and last three minutes of the half, with the rest belonging to Latics and in particular their winning goal scorer Jennings.
The closest efforts before Jennings' goal fell to Kiernan and Redmond who both fired free kicks narrowly over the cross bar, with Latics also having a penalty claim for handball turned down.
Latics didn't have to wait long for their lead and on 64 minutes Jennings came alive in his natural environment down the wing.
A cross field pass found the 19-year-old wide on the left as he dragged the ball out of the air with the outside of his right boot, his pace carried him forwards and his chopping and changing dribble fooled Carlisle full back Connor Thomson into going to ground.
With a tight angle to aim from inside the area, Jennings made one last switch of the ball between his feet and with expert precision he tucked his effort into the bottom left corner between Bouzani's outstretched arm and the foot of the left post.
Jennings continued to cause Carlisle problems down the left side, using his pace to beat his man and pulling off some impressive individual skill.
The visitors gave Latics a late scare when an in-swinging free kick was parried into the danger zone by Mulby, but Garcia swept up to clear as the referee's final whistle sounded.
Victory seals Latics second three points in Group C, pulling level with table toppers Carlisle with one game to play.
Latics: Mulby, Buxton (Waldron 61), Garcia, Kiernan, Wilson, Meadows, Phillips, Ainscough (Poole 80), Antelmi, Redmond, Jennings (Cosgrove 87)
Carlisle: Bouzanis, Thomson, Brough, Thirwell (Marshall 46), Reid, Dempsey (Chisholm 46), Symington, Guy, Byrne, Young, Riordan
Subs: Brass, Elliott, Hammell