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Report: Town's Under-18s progress in FA Youth Cup after win at Wigan

3 November 2023

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Fleetwood Town's Under-18s have put their name in the hat for the Second Round of the FA Youth Cup after a dominate 2-0 victory over Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium.

First half goals from Dominic Richmond and Mikey Lane gave Fleetwood a commanding lead after 45 minutes on the clock, and deserved to be ahead due to their strong end to the game. The goals came three minutes between, giving the hosts a lot to do in the second half.

The game started off rather nervy from both sides at the DW Stadium. Both outfits wanted to get the ball down and play football on a slick pitch due to the heavy rain that fell an hour before kick-off. 

The Latics did have the first chance of the match and it came from their number 11, Harrison Bettoni. The forward had the ball on the right flank and when he came inside on his left, he struck the ball with some venom and watched his effort hit the Fleetwood Town crossbar. 

Moments later, Town's captain Kayden Hughes had to make a last ditch challenge metres outside of his own penalty box as Nathan Sandison thought he was one-on-one with the keeper. The last thing he was expecting was Hughes to get a toe on the ball.

Fleetwood's first chance came in the 25th minute. Forward Lane did superbly well to work a yard of space deep inside the opponents half. He struck it well on his weaker foot, but saw it blocked on the way to goal. 

Defender Theo Butterworth thought he had opened the scoring on the half hour mark. Liam Roberts did brilliantly from the corner to whip in a dangerous ball into the box, but it just came onto the centre-half too quickly, and he kicked it high over the bar.

Town were dominating in the latter stages of the first half, and when a training ground free-kick took place eight minutes from time, Hughes found himself with a free shot at goal at the far post, but yet again like his teammates, he failed to find the target. 

Mark Yeates' side did capitalise on their dominance four minutes before the break. Richmond was free in space inside the 18-yard box and when Lane picked him out, there was only one outcome and he made sure he found the back of the net.

Lane made it two moments later with a typical strikers finish inside the six-yard box. The ball fell nicely to him after some pinball action and it's probably one of the easiest chances he will get all season. Just what Fleetwood deserved for their first half performance.

As the second half got underway, Fleetwood started as they finished the first half. The Cod Army had two great chances early on to extend their lead, but neither Hughes or Bosembo Namputu could capitalise. Were Town going to regret not finding the back of the net? 

Wigan made changes on the hour mark in the hope of turning this game around, but it's fair to say Town stood firm to the more physcial challenges on the pitch when the arose.

The Latics couldn't find a way past Fleetwood's stern defense and were getting more frustrated as the game went on, but that's what Town wanted - who were also looking for the goal to kill off the game.

What a moment for our Under-16s player, Pele Smith - who came on with six minutes left of normal time and it's fair to say he didn't look out of place in the heart of the midfield. More to come from him as the season goes on.

Town now progress into the Second Round of the FA Youth Cup for consecutive seasons, and will now await to see who they will face next in this year's competition. Follow the Academy on X HERE to see all post-match reactions.

Wigan XI:Campbell (GK), Rimmer, Knott, Solomon (C) (Bolland, 53'), Hampson, Mohamed, McKee, Igiehon, Eckersall, Sandison (Greenhalgh, 61'), Bettoni (Edwards, 61').

Subs not used: Spaven, Hughes, Wilson, Harris.

Town XI: Bellizia (GK), Cirino, Hughes (C), Haughey, Butterworth, Doherty (Elmore, 88'), Richmond (Daha, 78'), Namputu (Smith, 84'), Lane, McLean, Roberts.

Subs not used: Woodward (GK), Slater, Animasaun, Currie.

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