- In front of 20,000 fans at the DW Stadium an out-of-sorts Wigan Athletic slumped to a 3-0 defeat to play-off chasing Sunderland.
- Latics went behind after only two minutes when Alex Pritchard’s free-kick was headed home by Bailey Wright.
- Matters got worse for the hosts on 38 minutes when Curtis Tilt tripped Ross Stewart in the box and the striker got up to convert the penalty kick.
- Latics struggled throughout to re-create their usual good form and when Darikwa was adjudged to handle the ball in the area Stewart once again converted from the spot-kick.
- Latics remain in second place in the table above MK Dons on goal difference but with three games in hand. The Black Cats move into fifth place in the play-off zone.
Leam Richardson made one change to the team which defeated Wycombe in midweek with Gwion Edwards replacing Gavin Massey.
The big home crowd was stunned as Sunderland went ahead after just two minutes when Wright headed Alex Pritchard’s free-kick past Ben Amos.
Latics responded well and Max Power’s dipping free-kick from 25-yards was well saved by the Black Cats keeper Anthony Patterson.
The hosts then went close when Josh Magennis’ cross from the right fell to James McClean at the far post, but the former Sunderland player was unable to get his attempt on target.
The visitors increased their advantage when they were awarded a penalty in the 36th minute when Stewart was tripped inside the box by Tilt.
Stewart picked himself up convert the resulting spot-kick firing into the bottom corner.
The expectation from the home fans was that Latics would start the second half strongly but it was the Black Cats who first threatened through Pritchard.
Stewart got the ball to Pritchard inside the penalty area, but his effort went just wide of the post.
Probably Latics’ best chance of the game then fell to Callum Lang.
Will Keane did well to put Lang in the clear but the striker’s final shot from just inside the area was straight at the advancing Patterson.
Stewart then fired wide for the visitors before at the other end Tilt headed McLean’s free-kick over the crossbar.
The three points were sealed for the visitors when Darikwa was adjudged to have handled in the box following a corner and Stewart once again converted the spot-kick.
It proved to be one of those days for Latics as they had gone behind early on, conceded an unnecessary penalty and from then on it was always going to be an uphill task to get anything from the game.
They had performed uncharacteristically poorly and they had never got their usual attacking game going, but now is not the time to panic.
They are still well positioned for automatic promotion, with games in hand and will want to get back to winning ways on Tuesday night at the DW stadium against Fleetwood Town.
Latics’ manager was level-headed as per usual after the game,
“It was a frustrating day from the first minute,”
“To concede from the first ball into your box is disappointing because it’s not the type of goal that we normally concede, but credit to Sunderland because they’ve come to get a result and they got it.
“I’ve got to be respectful to the players and the staff in that we haven’t lost here (at the DW Stadium) since October. The good thing about football is that we’re able to make it right over the next couple of days and we’ve got another game on Tuesday to do that.
“From Tuesday’s win at Wycombe, we didn’t get too high and now from today, we won’t get too low. What we will do is learn quickly and keep growing as a team.
“It’s the same message from right at the start of the season. We want to be competitive in every game and today was probably the first time I felt we weren’t as competitive for the 90 minutes, but it wouldn’t be for the lack of trying.”