Under-21s: Wigan Athletic 2 City 2

City’s Under-21s staged an impressive second-half fight-back at Wigan Athletic on Monday afternoon, to take a point from their opening game in the new Premier Development League.

Goals from Tom Hopper and Harry Panayiotou brought the Foxes back from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw at Robin Park Arena, where there were plenty of familiar faces on show.

In addition to the two goal-scorers, first team experience was also present in the shape of goalkeeper Conrad Logan, defender Tom Kennedy and forward Paul Gallagher, who missed Saturday’s win over Peterborough United through illness.

Rules of the new Under-21 league permit sides to field up to three over-age outfield players, plus an over-age goalkeeper, affording clubs the chance to use the games to maintain the fitness of some senior players, as well as develop their young professionals.

“It was the old adage of a game of two halves,” Under-21 Coach Steve Beaglehole told lcfc.com.

“Wigan passed the ball really well in the first half and gave us a bit of a lesson in ball retention and movement. They played three at the back, pushed their wing-backs high up the pitch and we struggled a bit.

“But we shuffled things around at half-time and played at a much better tempo in the second half, pressing the ball higher up the pitch. We conceded a second goal on the counter-attack, but showed great fighting spirit. It was a very good second-half performance.”

The highly-rated Callum McMananan gave the Latics the lead in the first half with a fine individual goal as the hosts dominated.

And despite City improving after the break, a foul from Cian Bolger on Edu Campabadal early in the second period allowed Daniel Redmond to double Wigan’s lead from the penalty spot.

But the Foxes never looked out of the game and responded shortly after the hour-mark when Gallagher’s cross was controlled and expertly dispatched by the excellent Hopper.

Gallagher could have levelled 16 minutes from the end, but was denied by Latics goalkeeper Calvin Hare in a one-on-one situation.

But the visitors would not be denied a share of the spoils as Hopper forced a mistake from Roman Golobart five minutes from time, before squaring for team-mate Panayiotou to slot home.

“We might even have gone on to win it after that,” Steve added.

“Their goalkeeper made a good save from George Taft, Tom Hopper hit the bar and Cian Bolger nearly finished a good set-piece from Paul Gallagher, so we were unlucky not to come away with all of the points.

“But all in all, after a difficult start to the game, it was a good start to the campaign against an experienced Premier League side.”

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