Shrewsbury Town 0 Wigan Athletic 5
Callum McKenzie made two changes to the team that defeated Preston North End 4-1 last week. Defenders Tom Davies and Luke Ward returned to the starting 11 replacing Edan Sears and Lewis Redding respectively. This match sees Luke Ward starting his first game since being sent off in Town’s 2-2 draw against Accrington Stanley in December. Unbeaten Wigan Athletic top the Youth Alliance League and have also advanced in the Youth Alliance Cup after beating Scunthorpe United 2-1 last Saturday.
Shrewsbury started the opening minutes on the front foot and soon found themselves in Wigan’s half courtesy of Dan Walker, but his pass to find Lifumpa Mwandwe had too much power behind it and ended up out of his reach. Town were forced to go on the defence just one minute later when James Berry made a good run down the right but Tom Davies tracked him all the way and prevented him from getting a cross into the box. The defence were forced to keep a strong line when Wigan’s Kyle Joseph and Mackenzie O’Neill linked up well but O’Neill’s final header went off target and the Shrewsbury players ensured it went out of play.
In the minutes that followed, it was the league leaders who came the closest to scoring when Town captain James Rowland and Dan Walker worked well together to hold off Mitchell Culshaw from getting any closer to their goal. Luke Ward and Tom Davies did well to hold off the Wigan counter-attack but Davies conceded a corner in the process; the first in the game for the visitors. Shrewsbury managed to clear the danger but the ball found O’Neill whose shot fired wide of Sam Agius’ post. There was a brief spell of possession for Shrewsbury when Reiss Corfield, Lifumpa Mwandwe and Jack Leask all linked up well but they couldn’t find a way past Wigan’s defence.
Sam Agius made two saves in quick succession to prevent Wigan from taking the lead. The first came when Kyle Joseph broke away in possession and he was forced to come out of his box and clear, and the second when James Berry managed to get away from Shrewsbury’s defence and was forced into making another great save. Kian Taylor made a great interception on Berry but he was unable to capitalise on this as he couldn’t find a way past Wigan’s defence.
Wigan had their best chance in front of goal when Sam Agius misplaced his pass which found the feet of James Berry but he couldn’t control his shot and the ball went flying over the crossbar. Shrewsbury were awarded a free-kick before the 25-minute mark which defender Luke Ward stood up to take; attempting to find Lifumpa Mwandwe but he was unable to find the end of the cross as it carried too much power.
The Latics got the goal they desperately wanted when Kyle Joseph picked out Mackenzie O’Neill who managed to break away from Shrewsbury’s defence and slotted the ball past Sam Agius. Wigan doubled their lead in the last kick of the half when Kyle Joseph met the end of Jensen Weir’s corner kick; flicking it onto Adam Long who found the back of the net.
The visitors picked up where they left off at the start of the second half and made matters worse for Shrewsbury as they extended their lead further in the 47th minute. Kyle Joseph scored his first goal of the game after being picked out by Victor Maffeo at the back post heading the ball past Agius from close range. Shrewsbury looked to get one back through Lifumpa Mwandwe but he was unable to reach Dan Walker’s pass. Mwandwe had another chance in front of goal five minutes later but Wigan’s captain Emeka Obi stood tall and prevented him from setting up a shot.
Another chance came and went for Town when Mwandwe fired the ball over the crossbar of Bobby Jones’ goal after finding the end of Ryan Grosvenor’s delivery. Kyle Joseph found his second of the game in the 75th minute when he connected onto the ball and found the target to all but certainly wrap up all three points for Wigan. The Tics weren’t quite finished there though and brought even more heartache for Town by adding a fifth just five minutes before the end of the game. A corner taken by substitute Thelo Aasgaard found Jensen Weir in the box and his ball was flicked into the net by Kyle Joseph; the goal ensuring that he would come away with the match ball after scoring a hat trick. This victory for Wigan meant that they extended their lead at the top of the Youth Alliance League and have ensured that their unbeaten run continues.
Shrewsbury Town will be looking to bounce back from this defeat in two weeks when they play away at Macclesfield Town on Saturday 9th February.
Team:Sam Agius, Reiss Corfield, Dan Walker, James Rowland (c) (Lewis Redding 28), Tom Davies, Luke Ward (Edan Sears 69), Jamaine Turner (Archie Elmore 80), Kian Taylor, Ryan Grosvenor, Jack Leask (Ethan O’Toole 74), Lifumpa Mwandwe.
Unused Sub: Jaden Bevan.