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U21s Defeat 10-Man Wigan
Tuesday, 23rd Apr 2024 15:03

Leon Ayinde and a trialist were on target as Town’s U21s beat 10-man Wigan Athletic 2-0 at Portman Road. Ayinde gave the Blues the lead in the 26th minute as Town dominated the first half and the trialist forward came off the bench in a much more closely fought second period to seal the points for the home side in the 85th minute after the Latics had been reduced in number following the dismissal of one of their trialists for two bookable offences.

The Blues, who included a trialist at left-back from the start as well as the attacker on the bench, were first to threaten in the fourth minute, some keen pressing on the right leading to Wigan losing possession.

Matty Roberts won it and exchanged passes with Matt Ward before attempting to emulate his fellow Welshman Wes Burns with a right-footed trivelo finish which curled not too far wide.

A minute later, Ward crossed deep from the right and centre forward Tommy Taylor was unable to find the target with his acrobatic effort from a tight angle.

Wigan struck their first shot in the ninth minute after Town had been dispossessed taking the ball out from the back, Luke Brennan hitting an effort which was low to keeper Henry Gray’s right but which caused the New Zealand U20 international little trouble.

However, the Blues had been on top in the early stages and a minute later Taylor went close, hitting a powerful 20-yard effort just wide of Latics’ keeper Matt Corran’s right post.

As the game approached the 15-minute mark, Youssef Chentouf struck a cross-shot from a tight angle which Gray claimed comfortably.

Within a minute, Ward, Town’s main threat in the opening phase, crossed from the right and Roberts turned towards goal only for his strike to hit Taylor and deflect wide.

Town should have gone in front in the 23rd minute when central midfielder Osman Foyo played forward to Ward on the right, the wideman cutting in and taking the ball on to the edge of the box before playing a pass to Foyo, who had broken forward to the penalty spot, but the former Norwich youngster scraped his shot wide when he really ought to have scored.

But three minutes later, the Blues finally did take the lead. After excellent work deep in his own half from Taylor, Town counter-attacked and Roberts found Ward wide on the right.

The former Braintree loanee moved it forward to the breaking Foyo, who cut across the edge of the area to Leon Ayinde in space on the left and the ex-Cork City youngster confidently beat Corran.

The home side continued to threaten and on 29 Ward overhit a cross from the right and Ayinde sent it back from the left but too high for Taylor. Four minutes later, Wigan’s Dylan Dwyer was booked for protesting after a foul on Ward.

Following the free-kick, Ayinde sent the ball back in from the left and centre-half Jacob Mazionis headed against the woodwork at the far post. The ball fell to Roberts, who hooked an effort towards the opposite corner but Jack Rogers flicked it behind with his head.

The Blues continued to dominate and in the 35th minute Taylor’s near-post header looped over the bar.

Three minutes later, Town hit the woodwork again, Ayinde twisting and turning on the left of the box and working himself space for a cross-shot from a tight angle which slammed against the near post.

Wigan chances had been rare but on 40 Abdi Sharif curled a free-kick from just outside the box over Gray’s goal.

Three minutes later, one of the Latics’ trialists was booked for a foul on Ward, who had caused the visitors problems all half. Roberts’s free-kick aimed at Mazionis was too far in front of the former Lithuanian U17 international.

In the 44th minute, Steven Taylor fed Taylor on the edge of the box, his shot was saved but not held by Corran. Ward looked to get on the rebound but the ball was taken away from the winger as he reached it.

Seconds before the whistle, Ward was sent away in space on the right, but the wideman’s shot screwed well away from the target.

That was the final action of a half dominated by the Blues, who really ought to have been more than a single goal in front having had plenty of chances, hitting the woodwork twice.

Three minutes after the break, Chentouf got his name in the book for a wild challenge on Ayinde on the Town left.

In the 50th minute, the Latics came close to levelling. Chentouf crossed low from the right and one of the Wigan trialists shot wide when he really should have scored.

Five minutes later, Taylor profited from Town’s pressing, winning the ball and cutting in from the left before hitting a shot which curled wide.

On 56, after Wigan had swapped one of their trialists for Max McMillan, Mazionis was booked for a foul on Sharif just outside the area. The free-kick caught the wall and slammed into Roberts, pole-axing the former Wales U18 international, who was OK to continue after treatment.

In the 59th, Dwyer hit a shot through to Gray with the visitors having been more in the game in the opening minutes of the second half.

Two minutes later, Rogers turned the second of two Wigan corners over the bar with the Latics looking more and more threatening.

From the resultant goal-kick, Wigan went closer, Dan O’Connor scuffing the ball to McMillan just inside the box and Gray did well to save low down at his left post.

Moments later, Sharif tried an audacious effort from distance trying to catch Gray out of his goal but missed the target by some distance.

Town, who had been significantly less in control since the break with Ward having been afforded less space down the right, made a double change with Emmanuel Okunowo taking over from Foyo in central midfield and a second trialist replacing Roberts in the trio behind striker Taylor.

Wigan were reduced to 10 men in the 70th minute when their trialist who had been booked earlier in the game was shown his second yellow card and then a red for a pull back on Blues skipper Edwin Agbaje, who had dispossessed him and was bearing down on the area.

Two minutes later, Irish U19 international Agbaje cut the ball back from the right to Taylor, who scuffed a first-time shot to Corran when he might have done better.

On 74, Town’s sub trialist was sent away towards the left of the box but his low shot was saved by Corran’s left foot. Moments later, Ward, now less shackled following the red card, cut in and hit a shot which the keeper saved.

That was Ward’s last action of the game, the wideman having been Town’s best player in the first half before being outnumbered down that flank in the second. Wigan swapped Kai Payne for Jack Reilly.

As rain began to fall heavily and the wind began to blow, Wigan went very close again, Chentouf did well on the right and crossed low for their striker trialist, who once more shot wide when he should have scored.

In the 85th minute, Town’s sub trialist was played in on goal by Okunowo but keeper Corran was able to save as he tried to round him.

However, the trialist, who had impressed since being introduced, wasn’t to be denied a goal, bringing the ball in from the left and shooting across Corran and into the net to make it 2-0 and seal the victory.

Soon after the goal, Mazionis went down injured off the ball and required treatment with what appeared to be an ankle injury but was able to continue.

With Town having the two-goal lead and with Wigan down to 10 men, the game was over from a competitive angle and the visitors showed their frustration with one or two tackles late on, Reilly picking up a yellow card not long before the whistle.

A deserved victory for the Blues who were much better in the first half when they really should have been two or three goals in front.

Wigan improved the break and had chances to level before the red card and Town’s second goal sealed the three points and the Blues ultimately saw out the final minutes more confidently.

The trialist at left-back didn’t particularly catch the eye, however, the second half sub looked a danger and might well have scored prior to his goal.

Meanwhile, academy schoolboy Sid Eldred is with the Northern Ireland U16s for a UEFA development tournament in Estonia. The Northern Irish youngster was in the side which drew 2-2 with Ukraine today, winning the penalty shootout 7-6, picking up an assist, Luxembourg on Thursday and the hosts on Sunday.

Town: Gray, Agbaje (c), Mazionis, O’Connor, Trialist (Lavin 81), Turner, Foyo (Okunowo 68), Ward (Nwabueze 75), Roberts (Trialist 68), Ayinde, Taylor. Unused: Binns.

Wigan: Corran, Lloyd (c), Rogers, Trialist, Dwyer, Payne (Reilly 75), Trialist (McMillan 55), Sharif, Chentouf, Trialist, Brennan. Unused: Spaven, Graham, Bates.

Photo: Matchday Images

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BluePG added 16:35 - Apr 23
Phil, forgive my asking, however why do trialists not get named? I’ve seen pre-season friendly games where there are a number of them listed as “Trialist” on team sheets.

Cavendish_Blue added 19:05 - Apr 23
I think its because the club don't want to let on who they're trialling?

MK1 added 19:32 - Apr 23
How old is the Wigan player in the pic?

PhilTWTD added 22:08 - Apr 23

Clubs often don't name trialists. Often find out who they are - like one who played last week - but not on this occasion. So far anyway!

PhilTWTD added 22:09 - Apr 23

Photo is a stock photo from the Cambridge friendly in pre-season!

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