Wigan Athletic 2-0 Stockport County

The Hatters’ English Football League/Bristol Street Motors Trophy campaign came to an end in the competition’s first knockout round with a two-goal defeat at Wigan.

In what was a first competitive meeting with the ‘Latics’ in over 20 years, and only County’s second trip to the DW (formerly JJB) Stadium, two first-half goals within five minutes settled the tie in favour of the League One side, despite a much-improved County performance after the break.

The Hatters took to the field for an early kick-off on a cold, clear Wednesday evening, and showing five changes from their starting line-up for the FA Cup-tie at Aldershot three days earlier. Jordan Smith donned the goalkeeper’s gloves in Ben Hinchliffe’s stead, while Joel Cotterill, Cody Johnson, Ashton Mee and Jayden Richardson came in for Odin Bailey, Macauley Southam-Hales, Ibby Touray and Kyle Wootton. Four of the replaced quintet – with Southam-Hales the exception to be rested – were named among the substitutes.

The hosts, featuring, in Jordan Jones and Scott Smith, only a couple of starters from their Friday night Cup match at York, enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening stages – albeit without creating a clear-cut chance until the tie had passed the quarter-hour mark. But when they eventually did, they took the lead, as Jonny Smith converted a Chris Sze cross from the left.

Five minutes later, Wigan’s attempts-tally and advantage were doubled, after a short free-kick was worked out to the left – from where Northern Irish international Jones delivered to Liam Morrison, who glanced a header into the net’s far corner for his first professional goal.

The impressive Jones turned from provider to striker shortly afterwards – going close with a well-executed low drive. And one minute before half-time, ex-Latic Nick Powell had County’s inaugural opportunity of the night – heading on Richardson’s cross from the right, and forcing home goalkeeper Ben Amos to dive and smother.

Kyle Wootton. Wigan Athletic FC 2-0 Stockport County FC. The Bristol Street Motors Trophy. DW Stadium. 6.12.23

HALF-TIME: Wigan 2 (Jonny Smith, 18; Morrison, 23), County 0. 

Having fashioned the final attempt of the first half, Powell also hit the first one of the second – courtesy of a low shot that took a deflection on its way through to Amos – but, almost immediately afterwards, picked up a knock and was replaced just ahead of the hour by Wootton.

Amos then used his feet to save from Cotterill, who was one of four Hatters substituted as Bailey, Tanto Olafe, Antoni Sarcevic and Touray were introduced simultaneously. County’s changes helped make a difference to the pattern of play, too, as Touray delivered a cross from the left for Wootton to head over, and Bailey unleashed a shot that Amos tipped around the left post.

The Hatters continued to press, with Richardson being denied by Amos when through on goal – although, at the other end, Jordan Smith needed to be alert in twice coming off his line to dispossess Sze following later Wigan counter-attacks.

FULL-TIME: Wigan 2 (Jonny Smith, 18; Morrison, 23), County 0.

Team (4-3-3): Jordan Smith; Knoyle, Byrne, Wright, Pye; Cotterill (Olaofe, 63), Johnson (Sarcevic, 63), Mee (Touray, 63); Richardson, Madden (Capt.) (Bailey, 63), Powell (Wootton, 58).

Unused Subs: Hinchliffe, Horsfall.

Booked: Knoyle, Powell, Sarcevic, Olaofe.

Attendance: 3,051 (588 away).

Reporter: Gareth Evans.

Photographer: Mike Petch.


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