Osborne's opener not enough to seal cup triumph
Fleetwood Town’s Development Squad were defeated 3-1 in the Central League Cup Final against Wigan Athletic on Tuesday – but the match wasn’t without controversy.
Elliot Osborne’s penalty in the opening minute gave Town a deserved first half lead after Ashley Nadesan was brought down by Latics ‘keeper Theo Roberts. Roberts was initially sent off by the referee, who then bizarrely changed his mind a minute later.
The home side – with all 11 men on the pitch – came back strong in the second period and Callum Lang’s hat trick saw his side clinch the Cup, at the Robin Park Arena.
The game began in breathless fashion, straight from the kick off Wigan stopper Roberts fumbled possession and allowed Nadesan through on goal. Roberts proceeded to bring the striker down who was about to tap into an empty net, a penalty was awarded and a red card brandished to the goalkeeper.
Before the penalty was taken, as Nadesan received treatment, the referee appeared to change his decision and hand Roberts a reprieve, changing his decision to a yellow card and allowing him to remain on the pitch.
Amid the confusion, Osborne stepped up and despatched the penalty into the bottom corner to give Town an early lead.
Fleetwood almost added to their flying start in the 12th minute when the ball dropped free for Michael Donohue inside the box, but the midfielder fired his shot narrowly over the bar.
The strong wind was causing all sorts of problems; it almost favoured Fleetwood in the 25th minute when Oliver Roberts’ deep corner had to be tipped onto the bar after swirling around in the air.
After a frantic start the game had finally settled down into a pattern, Town again went close following a counter attack led by Dan Mooney that saw Alex Reid denied by a fine reaction save from the spared goalkeeper.
On the stroke of half time Wigan missed two glorious chances to level, first Billy Crellin saved well from Liam Langford, before Sam Stubbs was left free at the back post from the resulting corner, but the defender couldn’t find the target with his header.
Latics’ didn’t have to wait long into the second half for their equaliser; in the 50th minute Lang tried his luck from distance and his low shot found its way into the bottom corner.
Fleetwood responded well and looked the side most likely to take the lead and almost did when yet another Roberts cross cannoned off the bar.
But just moments later it was Wigan who went in front, after a scramble on the edge of the penalty area, the ball broke free for Lang who stayed calm and steered his effort beyond Crellin.
Fleetwood responded well to the setback and pushed forward in search of an equaliser, they came agonisingly close six minutes from time when Reid raced onto a through ball but saw his shot blocked by a strong right arm from Roberts.
As the final moved into five minutes of stoppage time, Town were dealt a cruel blow when Wigan hit them with a counter attack and Lang swept home his hat-trick to put the result beyond doubt.
Fleetwood: Crellin (GK); Kerrigan, Holgate, Sheron, Wallace, Roberts, Donohue, Osborne, Mooney, Reid (C), Nadesan.
Subs: Turner (GK), Unsworth, Collings, Dodd, Garner.
Wigan: Roberts (GK); Burke (C), Langford, Gregory, Stubbs, Anson, Burgess, Barrigan, Cosgrove, Lang, Baxendale.
Subs: Evans (GK); Boyd, Lingard, Randell, Hilton.