Report: Blues Under-23s 0 Wigan Under-23s 2

Moha Romas between the posts for Blues was a virtual spectator for much of the 90 minutes as the hosts bossed possession but were lacking that crucial cutting edge in front of goal.


Blues Under-23s were punished for not taking their chances as visiting Wigan Athletic completed a smash-and-grab raid at the Trillion Trophy Training Ground.

Late second-half strikes from Divin Baningime and Ollie Crankshaw decided this feisty PDL contest. However, the 0-2 scoreline didn’t tell the story of a game that Steve Spooner’s side dominated for long periods.

Moha Romas between the posts for Blues was a virtual spectator for much of the 90 minutes as the hosts bossed possession but were lacking that crucial cutting edge in front of goal.  

Blues eased themselves gradually into the match, passing the ball around well without putting the visiting defence under too much pressure during the early stages, but should have gone into the interval ahead.

A long ball from the back by Geraldo Bajrami created the first real opening on 21 minutes, Wigan keeper Bobby Jones coming well off his line to clear the bouncing ball but ended up nodding the ball up and behind him. Josh Andrews looked to take advantage but saw his header blocked by a defender.

Kyle Hurst’s low shot was comfortably saved by Jones a minute later before Blues really took the game to their opponents during the closing stages of the first-half.

Odin Bailey floated a 34th minute free-kick over the Wigan wall but saw his looping effort brushed over the bar by the fingertips of Jones. And from the resultant corner, Bajrami’s glancing header was blocked.

Blues’ clearest first-half chance – and as it transpired probably their best scoring opportunity of the game – came on 41 minutes, when Bailey’s through ball put Andrews clean though on the right side of the area. The big striker went more for power than placement and his shot crashed back off the outside of the post.

Jones was called into action before the break when Ryan Burke let fly from 25 yards with a fizzing drive that the Wigan keeper did well to tip over the bar. Kane Thompson-Sommers’ side-footed a shot wide and Burke scuffed another opening from just outside the area as Spooner’s charges finished the half strongly.

The home side enjoyed another good spell of pressure early in the second-half, creating three chances in as many minutes.

An attack down the right saw Ben Forrest play the ball inside to Andrews, the striker producing a nice piece of skill to make room for a shot, but his effort was blocked.

Blues’ most threatening second-half foray into the Latics penalty box followed a great turn and run by Hurst, the winger playing in the overlapping Burke inside the area. The Irish left-back chose to shoot early when he may have been better off taking the ball on a few yards, Jones saving low down with relative ease.

Hurst then engineered another good opportunity with some neat footwork on the left of the area, pulling the ball back to Andrews who turned but fired his effort straight at Jones.

The game became more ill-tempered as the second-half went on, the referee brandishing cards to Joe Redmond, Andrews and Caolan Boyd-Munce, joining Thompson-Sommers in the book – the Blues midfielder received a yellow in the opening period, along with the visitors’ right-back Tyler Colson. The Wigan man was perhaps fortunate to avoid a late dismissal after deliberately handling the ball.

It summed up a frustrating afternoon for Blues, which should have seen them earn at least a point but they came away with nothing as Wigan scored from two late counter-attacks.

Baningime latched onto Chris Merrie’s pass to fire an unstoppable shot past Ramos from the left of the box on 74 minutes. And The Latics made sure of victory with three minutes to go, Crankshaw firing a low drive into the far corner from the opposite side of the area.

Blues thus missed a chance to move into second spot in the PDL, but remain handily placed in fourth, two points adrift of the play-off zone.

Blues: Ramos; Forrest, Redmond, Bajrami, Burke; Boyd-Munce, Thompson-Sommers (Stirk 72); Concannon, Bailey, Hurst (Reid 72), Andrews.
Subs (not used): Baker, Gordon, Bradley-Hurst (GK).

Bookings: Thompson-Sommers (31), Redmond (61), Andrews (78), Boyd-Munce (84)

Wigan: Jones; Colson, Long, Perry, Webber (Calvin 90); Obi, Merrie, Crankshaw, Baningime; Smith (Joseph 82), Jollie.
Subs (not used): Jolley, Avecko, Tickle (GK).

Goals: Baningime (74), Crankshaw (87) 
Bookings: Colson (39)