Johnson praises young guns
Lee Johnson believes the future is bright for Latics after seeing his young side draw 1-1 at Leyton Orient in their final npower League One match of the season.
Latics' manager handed a full debut to 18-year-old Danny Gosset while first-team scholar Jack Truelove was on the bench.
And with the likes of Kirk Millar, the goalscorer at the Matchroom Stadium, Connor Brown, Carl Winchester and Glenn Belezika in their line up, it was certainly a youthful line up.
Johnson said: "I was delighted when you see the inexperience in our side and the experience in their team.
"I asked for a reaction after the defeat at Shrewsbury in midweek, and certainly got it. I thought we were really good and I enjoyed watching us.
"I think we deserved the draw on the balance of play and I would say we created the better chances.
"There is a lot to be positive about and you can see that some of the young players coming through can compete at this level.
"If we can upgrade and add the quality around them then we have a bright future."
Johnson praised Gosset’s debut display saying: "I thought he was fantastic because he is a lad who has come from nowhere.
"He has impressed me in training and done well in reserve games and, if you do that, you get your chance.
"Danny is a good player and he has to transfer that to men’s football which he did. What better way for him to learn than be chucked in at the deep end and play 80 minutes."
Latics’ manager explained that Belezika is getting better game by game adding the experience four or five players gained at Orient will stand them in good stead for the future.
Johnson made five changes from midweek as Gosset was handed his debut while there were recalls for Dean Bouzanis, Connor Brown, Belezika and Korey Smith.
Jonathan Grounds was ruled out through injury while Alex Cisak, Cliff Byrne, Bobby Reid and Joe Cooper all dropped down to the bench.
Johnson was convinced Latics ought to have been awarded a fourth-minute penalty when Korey Smith was sent sprawling in the penalty area, but referee Fred Graham was unmoved.
Millar and Lee Croft had shots blocked as Latics made a lively start.
It was a shock, therefore, when the O's snatched a ninth-minute lead with their first attack of the match.
Jimmy Smith latched on to Romain Vincelot’s long forward punt and smashed an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.
Lee Croft shot just over after being set up by Jose Baxter who also grew into the captaincy which was afforded to him.
There was a let off for Latics when Belezika's interception ran back to Bouzanis who picked up the ball with the referee interpreting it as a back pass. Luckily Latics defended the free kick from inside the box.
Winchester shot narrowly over for Latics just before half time as they kept plugging away.
And they were rewarded within 60 seconds of the restart when Cristian Montano (pictured) dispossessed Leon McSweeney and crossed for Baxter to shank his shot which ran to Millar who also miscued but saw the ball fly in off the upright.
It was 20-year-old Millar's first senior goal and one he deserved for his efforts.
Bouzanis made a decent save to keep out Jimmy Smith’s header and Charlie MacDonald shot not far wide while for Latics Montano had a shot deflected over a corner.
Latics brought on Robbie Simpson, Reid and Truelove for Croft, Gosset and Brown.
The O’s came within inches of regaining the lead when a diagonal pass released Dean Cox whose ferocious shot struck the upright.
Late in the game, Latics had three great chances to snatch victory.
Simpson’s fierce drive was well tipped over by keeper Jamie Jones and, from the resulting corner, Montano blazed just wide.
And deep into stoppage time, Latics broke away and Montano forced a stretching save from Jones as they finished in the ascendancy.
Leyton Orient (4-4-2): Jones; McSweeney (Cook 74), Vincelot, Clarke, Sawyer; Odubajo,, J Smith, James (Lee 82), Cox; MacDonald, Lisbie. Subs (not used): Butcher, Rowlands, Vanderhyde, Georgiou.
Latics (4-4-2): Bouzanis; Winchester, Belezika, M'voto, Brown (Truelove 80); Croft (Simpson 81), K Smith, Gosset (Reid 76), Montano; Baxter, Millar. Subs (not used): Cisak, Iwelumo, Byrne, Cooper.
The goals: Smith (9) for Orient. Millar (46) for Latics.
Bookings: Vincelot (80) for Orient. K Smith (39), Croft (56) for Latics.
Referee: Mr F Graham.
Attendance: 5,191 (667 visitors).