A combination of very poor refereeing by Mike Dean and clever counter-attacking by a well-drilled Sunderland contributed to Wigan’s latest setback.
Martin O’Neil’s ability to transform an average Sunderland team into a winning outfit should not be underestimated, it can’t just be the luck of the Irish that has transformed former manager Steve Bruce’s hapless Black Cats into an organised and effective team.
O’Neil’s team have already surpassed Bruce’s points total obtaining 13 points from six games.
Referees certainly seem to have it in for Wigan at the moment, Phil Dowd’s atrocious display at Old Trafford was replicated by Wirral referee Dean. He gifted Sunderland the opportunity to get the opening goal by firstly denying Wigan a clear corner and then at the other end of the pitch giving an unjust free-kick on the edge of the Wigan box from which Craig Gardner smashed home.
Wigan had dominated the first half creating numerous chances but could not get the vital breakthrough. Steve Gohouri had a shot cleared off the line by Craig Gardner and both David Jones and Ben Watson hit the woodwork. Albert Crusat was a constant thorn in the Black Cats side until he had to retire early with a back injury. His incisive passing and jinking runs made him Wigan’s liveliest player. But it was Sunderland who went into the break one goal ahead.
The second half began in similar fashion with Sunderland sitting back and inviting Wigan pressure. But in the 54th minute a mistake by Jones allowed Sunderland to double their lead. Richardson fed Vaughan who crossed for McClean to head home at the second attempt after Al Habsi had saved his first effort.
Wigan then laid siege to the Sunderland goal and it was no surprise when Hugo Rodallega grabbed a goal back when his deflected shot from outside the box found the corner of the Sunderland net.
Wigan continued to press and it seemed only a matter of time before they would equalise.
However, once again the referee was at fault as he failed to see a pull on Maynor Figueroa by Niklas Bendtner, the Danish striker then crossed the ball for Stephane Sessegnon to score.
As Wigan committed more men forward, they were always vulnerable to the counter-attack and from McClean’s charged down shot the ball broke to Vaughan who lashed the ball into the top corner.
The 4-1 result flattered Sunderland but Wigan’s failure to take their chances had contributed to their own downfall.
Wigan remain in the bottom three, two points away from safety and Sunderland rise to a heady tenth.
The Latics priority for the transfer window should be a striker and a punt on a goalscorer such as Rickie Lambert or Billy Sharp could be invaluable, if they are to evade the drop this season.