Latics reach for the stars
Danny Philliskirk enjoyed a dream debut for Latics who produced a classy attacking display to win 4-1 at Shrewsbury Town in the first round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
The striker scored twice while Adam Rooney and Sidney Schmeltz also found the net as Latics netted four on the road for the second time this season.
Latics produced some fabulous attacking play and possessed the cutting edge they have lacked in a number of earlier matches.
It was a display which delighted Lee Johnson who said: "I thought we were brilliant today, cosmic at times and could have scored seven or eight. That was more like it and I was really pleased.
"I have been sat there racking my brains every week thinking how we are not winning these games when we have been playing so well and also watching the DVD's of the games endless times."
Latics' manager added they had been working hard on the training ground and their movement in the penalty area and delivery of crosses was far better.
Johnson was delighted for Philliskirk saying he deserved his chance explaining he is a finisher and also technically very good.
"I asked him what was his wow factor and it has to be scoring goals and getting in the box. He did that and has given himself a shout to be fully involved," he continued explaining Philliskirk and co-striker Rooney are two clever players.
Johnson added he believes his new-look team is coming together and he hopes they will now kick on after this victory.
Latics' manager made three changes from Saturday’s home defeat by Tranmere Rovers as Philliskirk, Anton Rodgers and Albert Rusnak were all handed their full debuts as they replaced Jonson Clarke-Harris, James Wesolowski and James Dayton.
Shrewsbury suffered a blow in the opening minutes when central defender and captain Tamika Mkandawire limped off with a hamstring injury.
Latics went ahead in the ninth minute when left-back Joseph Mills joined the attack and saw his deflected shot saved by the legs of keeper Joe Anyon.
The loose ball was cut back for Philliskirk to curl a shot from the edge of the box low to the left of Anyon.
Mills was proving an attacking threat and his well struck free kick, awarded after Rooney was fouled on the edge of the box, brought a fine save from Anyon.
Latics received a let off when a wayward back pass from Rodgers let in debut-making striker Curtis Main, who is on loan from Middlesbrough, as he was clean through only for keeper Mark Oxley to make a save he had no right to do.
Moments later what might have been 1-1 became 2-0 as Philliskirk struck again in the 26th minute. Mills was the provider with an excellent cross from the left to the far post which he converted with far from the cleanest of strikes.
Philliskirk could conceivably have bagged a hat trick in the opening half hour as he threw himself at a cross and, which a spectacular overhead kick, cleared the crossbar from a couple of yards out.
Oxley pulled off another excellent save to keep out a shot from Jon Taylor while Graham Burke, a striker loaned from Aston Villa, shot just over as the Shrews remained a threat.
That receded when Latics scored a third goal in the 42nd minute after another fluent move which ended with overlapping right-back Matteo Lanzoni delivering a great cross for Rooney to convert with a near-post header which flashed into the net.
Latics, 3-0 ahead, took their foot off the gas as the Shrews made a storming finish to the half as they scored once and could conceivably have had two more.
Burke found the net with a screamer from 25 yards while Connor Goldson forced a third fine save of the half from Oxley and then had a shot cleared off the line by Rodgers.
Mills struck the upright early in the second half as Latics came within a whisker of scoring a fourth goal.
The match then hit a lull which was hardly surprising bearing in mind the high octane football of the opening half.
Latics eventually scored a fourth goal with 15 minutes as Schmeltz opened his scoring account after cutting in from the left and squeezing an angled shot past keeper Anyon.
Jonson Clarke-Harris, who replaced Rusnak with 11 minutes left, ought to have added a fifth goal as he wasted two glorious chances, the first a sitter in front of an open goal.
The Shrews had three decent openings late in the game, but were unable to find a route to goal as Latics emerged emphatic winners.
Shrewsbury (4-4-1-1): Anyon; Woods, Mkandawire (Jones 7), Goldson, Jacobson; Reach, Wildig, McAllister (Summerfield 81), Taylor; Burke (Parry 81); Main. Subs (not used): Weale, McQuade.
Latics (4-4-2): Oxley; Lanzoni, Tarkowski, Grounds, Mills; Rusnak (Clarke-Harris 79), Smith, Rodgers (Mellor 71), Schmeltz; Philliskirk (Millar 78), Rooney. Subs (not used): Wesolowski, Dayton.
The goals: Burke (43) for Shrewsbury. Philliskirk (9, 26), Rooney (42), Schmeltz (75) for Latics.
Bookings: Smith (72), Tarkowski (83), Clarke-Harris (90+1) for Latics.
Referee: Mr S Stockbridge.
Attendance: 1, 748 (186 visitors).