YOUNG gun Andrew Morris swapped his trainee duties for a place in the first team – and booked Latics their place in the next round of the Auto Windscreens Shield.
The 17-year-old rookie fired home a 105th minute Golden Goal winner on his first team debut after the holders had made hard work of their defence of the trophy.
“It was a Roy of the Rovers job,” remarked Latics manager John Benson, and the script couldn’t have been written better.
Morris had been on the pitch just 18 minutes when he picked up possession 30 yards out, strode forward to the edge of the box, and rifled a low shot past Clarets keeper Paul Crichton.
The goal brought down the curtain on a game which could have been settled much earlier had either side been wearing their shooting boots.
Burnley struck the woodwork twice, Latics hit it once, as chances went begging in both boxes.
But fortune eventually favoured young Morris, and his goal will stick long in the memory as he returns to his usual task of polishing boots and sweeping dressing rooms.
The win will have given Latics a major boost ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Wolves, even though a number of the expected side weren’t on duty last night.
Benson chose to make six changes from the team which started at Scunthorpe last Saturday, with Arjan de Zeeuw, Stuart Balmer, Andy Liddell, Roberto Martinez and Michael O’Neill all rested, while Scott Green was suspended.
Gareth Griffiths and Brian McLaughlin were handed rare starts, skipper Carl Bradshaw returned after three weeks out with a calf strain, new signing Jeff Peron was included, while Darren Sheridan and Ian Kilford earned recalls.
Peron proved the pick of the bunch with a confident display on both wings, while Bradshaw will have been pleased with his hour’s run-out at right back.
The tinkering gave Benson the chance to play a 4-4-2 system which he would like to use on a regular basis and, as at Scunthorpe when he reverted to a flat back four, the team looked far more settled.
Latics started strongly, with Kilford shooting just wide of the target after eight minutes, while Stuart Barlow flicked a header over the top after Pat McGibbon had met Peron’s corner on the volley.
At the other end, Kilford came to Roy Carroll’s rescue in the 15th minute.
The keeper dropped a corner from Glen Little and in the confusion Lennie Johnrose fired in a close-range shot which Kilford headed off the line.
Simon Haworth was the width of the woodwork from putting Latics in front after 20 minutes, meeting Bradshaw’s right-wing cross with a stinging volley from 12 yards which rattled the bar.
But their habit of falling behind came round again in the 27th minute – the eighth time in the last nine games it has happened.
Mitchell Thomas crossed from the left and ALAN LEE rose at the far post to plant a header past Carroll from seven yards.
Latics’ reply was swift, though, and they pulled level within 11 minutes.
Peron was pushed by Graham Branch as they challenged for possession down the right-hand side of the box and Bootle referee George Cain awarded a penalty.
BRADSHAW made no mistake from the spot, hammering a low shot to Crichton’s right.
They’re certainly having the luck with penalties at the moment, that being Latics’ eight spot-kick this season.
Payton almost restored Burnley’s lead 10 minutes into the second half when his snap shot from the edge of the area struck the bar.
Carroll then kept out Lee’s low shot at the far post with a smart diving save, before he was saved by the woodwork again after 70 minutes.
A bust-up between Peron and Johnrose resulted in the Clarets being awarded a free kick down the left.
Little swung the kick into the middle and Lee got up highest to head against the far post.
Barlow saw a shot from 16 yards deflected behind for a corner, while Haworth almost caught out Crichton with a 25-yard shot in the 80th minute, but the keeper managed to parry the effort before kicking the loose ball to safety.
Morris was introduced to the action to replace McLaughlin after 87 minutes, and little did he realise at that stage what an impact he would have on the game.
The game ticked into extra-time and frostbite was setting in when he had his golden moment.
Picking the ball up in midfield, MORRIS advanced towards the box and as the visitors’ defence stood off expecting him to pass, he pulled back his right foot and struck a low shot into the bottom corner of the net.
It sent the majority of the 2,085 crowd home happy and made him an instant hero.
He might have to wait a while for another bite of first team action, but with goals like that, young Morris could have a bright future ahead of him.
Match Report by Dave Seddon – Wigan Evening Post