Bad start to the New Year for Latics as Sunderland hit four at the DW
Wigan Athletic 1
Report by Nick Taylor
Despite Hugo Rodallega's first goal since May 2011, Latics couldn't take advantage of teams around them losing as Sunderland won 4-1 at the DW Stadium.
Sunderland took the lead on the stroke of half time from a controversial free kick scored by Craig Gardner. They added to that lead through a James McClean goal before, Rodallega pulled the Latics back into the game.
Sunderland proved too much on the break for Latics and at every opportunity they piled men forward if Latics' attacks came to nothing with, Stephane Sessegnon and David Vaughan wrapping up the win for the Black Cats.
It wasn't the best conditions for football as the wind whistled through the DW but, Latics appeared to be getting the ball down well and playing in the attractive style expected these days.
The Latics line-up saw Albert Crusat, Ben Watson and Steve Gohouri all come in but Crusat made an early exit after an innocuous collision that saw him go off clutching his ribs and replaced by Victor Moses after just 37 minutes.
The first big chance of the game came on 28 minutes when tricky winger James McClean dodged passed Ronnie Stam and whipped an inviting ball into the box but, Nicklas Bendtner couldn't quite get on the end of it and Latics were off the hook.
Just four minutes later a moment that defined the home side's night occurred when both David Jones and Ben Watson hit the post in the same attacking move.
Jones found his way into the Sunderland box after an inter-change of passing with Crusat only to see his left footed shot hit the left post, the rebound was then worked to Watson, whose right foot shot hit the right post.
After a frustrating half for Latics, it got worse when the referee awarded a free kick deep into stoppage time. It appeared that there was no contact with the Sunderland player but, Gardner lashed the ball at goal and the swirling wind did the rest to make it 1-0 to Sunderland.
Ten minutes after half time it was 2-0 when McClean broke free of his marker, had his header saved by Ali Al Habsi but, followed up the rebound himself.
Latics made an attempt for the fight back when Rodallega's 20 yard shot found the back of the net on 63 minutes. It took a deflection off a Sunderland defender but neither the striker nor the fans minded.
Just as the home side looked like making a fight back, they were hit on the break twice when Bendtner set up Sessegnon and then a lack of pressure on the attackers allowed Vaughan to shoot from range and see it sail passed Al Habsi.
The score line was very harsh on Latics who had looked comfortable up until the controversial free kick given by Mike Dean and as quickly as the winds changed so did the game.
The defeat leaves Latics in 18th and still two points behind both Queens Park Rangers and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Latics: Al Habsi, Stam (Sammon 58), Jones, Alcaraz, Gohouri, Figueroa, Watson (Diame 86), McCarthy, Gomez, Crusat (Moses 39), Rodallega
Unused subs: Pollitt, Boyce, McArthur, Di Santo
Sunderland: Mignolet, Gardner (Elmohamady 83), Richardson (Meyler 66), O'Shea, Kilgallon, Colback, Cattermole, Vaughan, Sessegnon, McClean (Dong 89), Bendtner
Unused subs: Carson, Laing, Lynch, Noble