Southport 0 Wigan Athletic 0

Wigan Athletic drew their second pre-season friendly in the space of four days, but the performance at Southport was nowhere near as impressive as the one that held Liverpool over the weekend.

Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 11:08 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:36 pm
Owen Evans, who kept his first Latics clean sheet

Against non-league opposition, Latics had been expected to show their divisional superiority, with hopefully one or two goals to please the travelling support, which numbered almost 900.

But despite enjoying lots of possession, they failed to threaten as an attacking force, with Southport goalkeeper Iain Turner having very little to do.

At the other end, youngster Owen Evans - in for Christian Walton, who was rested after picking up a slight knock - was also a virtual spectator, although he will treasure his first clean sheet at senior level.

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The home side may have been relegated from the National League last term, but they certainly weren’t here to watch Latics play their football.

In fact, striker Jack Sampson - born in Wigan, schooled at Cansfield and a member of the Latics academy before moving to Bolton - was putting himself around from the first whistle.

One particular clash with young Latics centre-back Sam Stubbs was slightly over-zealous, with Sampson throwing the ball away in disgust at the award of a free-kick.

But Stubbs showed maturity beyond his 18 years to stand his ground, with neither man giving an inch during an engaging battle that both will have enjoyed.

Latics showed for the first time down the left-hand side, with Michael Jacobs - captain for the night - crossing for Gavin Massey to direct his header just wide.

But the remainder of the half was a pretty ordinary game of practice football, with both sides passing it around well enough but not really looking in any real danger of scoring a goal.

There was a flashpoint right on half-time when Jacobs fed the galloping Alex Gilbey, who appeared to be nudged from behind as he tried to shoot for goal.

But referee Peter Wright - who had been whistle-happy up to that point - was unmoved, instead blowing for the interval.

The level of interest in the Under-8s game during the interval underlined what a famine the first half had been on the main stage.

And there was a real feeling - correctly as it turned out - that the goal that decided the spirited encounter would indeed be the only one of the night.

Latics made two changes at the break, Chey Dunkley and David Perkins for Stubbs and Sam Morsy, who was making his first appearance of pre-season.

And a lovely move from Latics immediately after the restart threatened to slice open the home defence.

Max Power fed Gilbey, whose pull-back to Massey was inch-perfect.

Unfortunately the finish was horrible and the ball flew way over the bar.

Latics made two more changes at the hour mark, Josh Laurent and Jordan Flores for Reece James and Power.

And another half a dozen Wiganers entered the fray just after the three-quarter mark, with Terell Thomas, Kaiyne Woolery, Chris Merrie, Luke Burgess, Callum Lang and Luke Burke replacing Massey, Omar Bogle, Jacobs, Gilbey, Nathan Byrne and Dan Burn.

At least the Latics youngsters - as they had against Liverpool last Friday night - showed some moments of promise.

Burke combined well with Lang, who fired over from a good position.

Then, in the dying seconds, Burgess also found himself in shooting range, only to again fail to hit the target.