The Youth Team’s unbeaten pre-season came to an end on Saturday as they lost an entertaining fixture with Winsford Town on Saturday.
Lewis McKinney helped himself to a hat-trick on the day, but it couldn’t stop the young Latics side from falling to defeat against a decent Winsford outfit.
Head of Coaching Conor Marlin said it was disappointing not to gain something from the game, but it can be a learning curve for the young players.
“We started slow, gave them a 2-0 lead and when you do that in football it's very difficult to get back into it.” He said.
“We were good after 10/15 minutes for the rest of the half and managed to claw it back.
“Second half we didn't really move the ball as well as we could have done, and individual mistake ultimately cost us.
“It was disappointing but there's lots to be learnt from it because you learn more about yourselves when you lose.”
It’s a defeat that brings to end an excellent string of results for the Youth Team.
Some might say it’s an eye opener having faced a loss, but Marlin believes the lads can take the positives out of the defeat ahead of the new season.
“It could be seen as a reality check in a way, but it's good to get that in pre-season.” He commented.
If we had won every game throughout pre-season, then I think when it came to the league it might have been a different story.
“It was a physical test against a good side and unfortunately, we weren't good enough on the day, so we'll have to put that right next time.”
A positive from the game was obviously the hat-trick from McKinney who has scored five goals in total in the preparation period.
Marlin was pleased to see McKinney improving after his injury lay off last season and he also had some positive words to say about first year scholar Jack Williams.
“Lewis is getting better with every game in pre-season, he basically missed all of last season through injury and illness, so it's a big year for him.
“He's started well, as centre forward scoring goals is massive for the team and Jack Williams set up all three, so it's pleasing to see some individual performances standing out.”
Next up for the Youth Team is their final game of pre-season against Halifax Town U18s tomorrow.
Marlin is hoping the side can put their mistakes behind them and finish off with a strong performance before league campaign kicks off.
“The main improvement I want to see is them move the ball a little quicker and with more quality.
“That was the main disappointment from Saturday, I think we were competitive enough, it was just we didn't do the basics well enough.”
Pre-season for the Youth Team has been mainly based around playing against men making the fixtures more of a physical challenge for the players.
Marlin says it was done with a purpose so that the young players will benefit from it in the future.
“I think the lads have impressed opposition we've played against, every manager that we spoke to after the game are interested in taking some of the lads on loan.
“That's probably the ultimate goal of these friendlies, getting them some interest and exposing them to the men's environment to help bridge the gap to the first team.
“A couple of loans at non-league clubs will benefit the lads in trying to break into our first team, so that's been a positive of this pre-season.”