It was a case of deja-vu as Wigan Athletic once again crashed to defeat at near neighbours Preston with a toothless performance. Latics had lost 4-0 at Deepdale last season and this was an equally embarrassing showing.
Paul Cook’s men were in good spirits after an opening day win against Cardiff and had been emboldened by a successful transfer window, but they were always second best throughout this fixture and PNE were able to secure an easy three points.
Sean Maguire headed home Paul Gallagher’s corner to put North End ahead after only six minutes with Latics all at sea defensively. It could so easily have been many more before Louis Moult doubled Preston’s lead with a free header on 39 minutes.
Latics started the second half strongly but the points were sealed for Preston when Gallagher struck a sweet free-kick into the top corner on 54 minutes.
Cook’s squad will now need to regroup and ensure that they quickly learn the lessons from such a poor display.
Latics made two changes from the team which had defeated Cardiff City with Kal Naismith and Cedric Kipre coming in for Anthony Pilkington and Chey Dunkley.
The visitors started slowly and PNE took control scoring after only six minutes, some poor marking from a corner allowed Maguire to head past Marshall.
Latics had a golden opportunity to level after eight minutes when Windass was gifted the ball on the edge of the area but his drive was straight and high at Declan Rudd when a lower shot either side might have resulted in a goal.
Midfielder Lewis Macleod tried his luck from distance but his effort was also well saved by Rudd.
But Preston continued to press as the visitors looked uncomfortable in defence and it was no surprise when they doubled their lead just before half time. Four Latics players surrounded Daniel Johnson but he was given far too much space and time to cross for Moult to head home between Fox and Robinson.
Latics started the second half briskly, probably after an ear bashing from Cook, but North End effectively secured the three points on 54 minutes when Gallagher’s unstoppable free-kick from the edge of the penalty area arrowed into the top corner.
Cook made changes to try and get a foothold in the game with Kieffer Moore, Jamal Lowe and Joe Williams all making their debuts, but they couldn’t pull a goal back and it proved to be another desperately disappointing afternoon for Latics at Deepdale.
It’s still very early in the season but the manager will be concerned to see that PNE wanted it more than his own players in an important derby. Latics players will quickly need to learn the lessons from this setback.
It seems that Cook doesn’t yet know his best defensive line-up and the combination of Fox and Kipre just didn’t work against Preston. New loan signing Charlie Mulgrew could be given a start sooner than expected after such a poor showing.
They missed Captain Samy Morsy’s combative style and were slow to close down and poor at marking. Preston won most of the fifty-fifties as Latics were usually second to the ball.
Going forward Latics weren’t clinical enough when chances did arise. Windass, Moore, MacLeod, Lowe and Lee Evans all had efforts on target but they just couldn’t find the corner to beat Rudd.
After such a lacklustre display Cook is likely to make changes to the team for the home game against Leeds United.