Latics take another step on the road to Wembley
Latics produced their most emphatic win of the season to move into the Northern Area Semi Final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
It rained goals at Boundary Park as Latics scored five goals against Notts County to erase the pain and disappointment of the league defeat at Meadow Lane a fortnight ago.
Two goals from Danny Philliskirk and one apiece from James Tarkowski, James Dayton and Jonson Clarke-Harris made it a memorable night for Latics.
And the only sad note was the dismissal of trainee Jordan Bove on his 18th birthday after only three minutes of his first-team debut following a reckless challenge which manager Lee Johnson says he will put down to youthful exuberance.
Johnson was given the reaction he demanded after the loss at Meadow Lane declaring: "It was an excellent performance and I was very pleased how we played.
"What was nice about our goals was that they were controlled. We were getting into areas and not just blazing it.
"We have been telling the players to watch Manchester City and Barcelona and see how they shape up to shoot and then they lay it on for somebody to finish. There were two or three goals which were really nice."
Johnson added that Philliskirk fully deserved his Optima Cars man-of-the-match award.
"Danny was fantastic tonight. Forget the goals – his general play was exceptional," he said.
Johnson continued: "I see how good he is every day and he is such a good technician. I just need an edge whether it comes from games, experience or aggression.
"He has had that edge in certain games. Sometimes he goes unnoticed because he is almost too good and too controlled. Today he was noticed and I was pleased for him because he is a good kid."
Johnson was also pleased with the character shown by his players, particularly during a period in the opening half when the fans were becoming frustrated.
"That was the point when the lads could have gone into their shells, but they didn’t. I feel we have turned the corner, though I could do with a victory like that in the league," he said.
Johnson made four changes from Saturday, though three were enforced as James Wesolowski was ruled out through a hamstring strain and David Mellor due to illness while Adam Rooney was held in reserve on the bench because of a foot injury.
Paul Rachubka was given a second start for Latics in goal while Joseph Mills returned after injury while there were also starts for Anton Rodgers and Cristian Montano.
It was a bizarre opening as Latics fell behind after 13 minutes, but could conceivably have been three goals to the good.
Philliskirk struck the upright and fired narrowly wide while Clarke-Harris brought a fine save from keeper Fabien Spiess,
Latics fell behind to a sucker punch as Ronan Murray wriggled past Tarkowski near the byline and scored from a tight angle.
It was the 22-year-old’s first start for County and only his fourth appearance for the club yet he has scored twice.
Latics wobbled for a spell as Gary Liddle planted a free header wide while Joss Labadie forced a decent save from Rachubka.
They regained their composure and the equaliser came just short of the half hour when Korey Smith supplied a perfect cross from the right for Tarkowski, who had stayed upfield from a free kick, to ghost in at the far post to fire high into the roof of the net.
Latics took the lead at the best possible moment on the stroke of half time when Dayton was tripped by Yoann Arquin. Philliskirk stepped forward to smash home the spot kick.
Rachubka had to make another important save from Labadie early in the second half before County lost their way.
They had central defender Dean Leacock sent off for bringing down Clarke-Harris who was clean through.
Clarke-Harris went down again in the box minutes later when he appeared to be shoved in the back, but referee Andy Haines waved play on.
Montano had a couple of good chances before Latics finally got their third goal which provided a welcome cushion.
Philliskirk played an excellent pass to release Dayton who rifled home a low shot from the right of the box where he was free in acres of space.
Connor Brown came on with 19 minutes left as he returned following a two-and-a-half month injury lay off and immediately came close to scoring as his shot flew the wrong side of the upright.
The fourth goal arrived in the 83rd minute when Dayton, free on the right of the box, unselfishly squared the ball for Philliskirk to blaze high into the roof of the net.
It was Philliskirk's sixth goal of the season and fifth in the JPT as he nudged ahead of Rooney as the club’s leading marksman.
There was still time for further drama as Bove, handed his first senior appearance when he came on for Rodgers, lasted only three minutes as he was shown a red card for scything down Kieron Freeman.
Latics still had time to score a fifth goal in the fifth and final minute of added time.
Philliskirk was denied his first senior hat trick by a super stop from Spiess diving low to his right. The ball came out to Clarke-Harris who swept home a low shot for his second goal for the club to round off a highly satisfying performance.
Latics (4-4-2): Rachubka; Kusunga (Brown 71), Tarkowski, Grounds, Mills; Dayton, Smith, Rodgers (Bove 85), Montano (Schmeltz 77); Philliskirk, Clarke-Harris. Subs (not used): Oxley, Rooney.
County (4-4-2): Spiess; Liddle, Smith, Leacock, Sheehan; Campbell-Ryce, Labadie, Fotheringham (Freeman 56), Grealish (Bell 46); Arquin, Murray (Showunmi 78). Subs (not used): Bialkowski, Haber.
The goals: Tarkowski (29), Philliskirk (44 pen, 84), Dayton (67), Clarke-Harris (90+5) for Latics, Murray (13) for County.
Sendings off: Bove (89) for Latics. Leacock (55) for County.
Bookings: Grounds (11), Montano (27) for Latics. Grealish (34), Leacock (41), Sheehan (56), Smith (89) for County.
Referee: Mr A Haines.
Attendance: 2,646 (126 visitors).