Wigan Athletic were unable to prevent Leeds United moving to the top of the Championship table with a comfortable 2-0 victory at the DW Stadium.
In a physical encounter Latics went down to ten men on 21 minutes when midfielder Joe Williams was dismissed for a second bookable offence and Leeds went ahead on 34 minutes as Patrick Bamford slotted home after Adam Forshaw’s header had struck the post.
Bamford added a second at close range on 65 minutes following a corner as Marcelo Bielsa’s high-energy visitors dominated.
Latics offered very little going forward and were unable to create many chances although Lee Evans forced two excellent saves from keeper Kiko Casilla from long-distance free-kicks.
Latics made five changes from the defeat to Preston North End with Kieffer Moore, Joe Williams, Chey Dunkley, Gavin Massey and captain Sam Morsy all coming into the starting line-up.
The visitors were quickly out of the blocks and threatened when Kalvin Phillips’ in-swinging free kick evaded everyone at the far post.
Both teams then went close through direct free-kicks, first Barry Douglas’ strike flew past the post before Evans’ curling shot from distance was pushed over the bar by Casilla.
From the corner Latics had their best chance to score when Massey headed against the post when unmarked.
Soon afterwards Latics were reduced to ten men when Williams was shown a second yellow card for a high challenge on Bamford.
Leeds looked even more dangerous now with the man advantage and Bamford was close to converting a low cross from Douglas and Pablo Hernandez fired into the side netting.
But Leeds did go ahead ten minutes before half time when Bamford tapped home from close range after Forshaw’s header had come back off the post.
At the start of the second half Bielsa’s team continued to be in the ascendancy with centre back Ben White heading over the bar, and Douglas also firing just over the Latics crossbar.
Leeds doubled their lead on 65 minutes when Bamford converted at the near post from a Douglas corner.
Latics were unable to offer much of a response with Moore left isolated upfront and Massey and Jacobs unable to get past their opponents.
Bielsa’s men continued to dominate and Forshaw went close at the back post and Hernandez’s free kick was superbly tipped around the post by David Marshall.
Cook introduced Jamal Lowe and Bright Enobakhare in an attempt to get back in the game but it was a forlorn hope as Leeds remained in control.
Evans long-range free kick forced a very good save from Casilla, but Latics rarely looked like getting anything from this game.
Cook’s route-one tactics meant they struggled to create chances against a well-drilled Leeds defence. The signing of Moore provides Latics with a big target man but it should not be their only method of attack.
The direct ball to the isolated striker Moore proved ineffective while wingers Gavin Massey and Michael Jacobs failed to pose any real threat down the flanks.
Admittedly Latics were down to ten-men against one of the best sides in the Championship but the manager’s tactics did not help their cause.
Defensively Latics have already shipped seven goals in three league games and it’s fair to say Cook does not yet know his best defensive line-up.
It’s still early days but with the games coming thick and fast and the manager must review his route-one approach and address the defensive frailties or Latics will struggle.