WIGAN Athletic were left shaken and stirred after crashing out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle on after an embarrassing 4-0 defeat at Bury.
The visitors were never at the races, and can have no complaints whatsoever to bow out of a competition they won less than two-and-a-half years ago.
Bury were literally gifted the opener on 18 minutes when Tom Pope’s weak header straight at Rich O’Donnell squirmed out of the goalkeeper’s hands and somehow trickled in off the post.
The home side doubled their advantage just after the half-hour mark when a Latics attack broke down and Bury countered, Jacob Mellis feeding Danny Mayor who rifled home.
It was game over in first-half stoppage-time when Pope’s header was bundled home by skipper Nathan Cameron from close range.
And copious amounts of salt was rubbed into the Wigan wounds midway through the second period when former Latics striker Leon Clarke notched number four shortly after coming on as a substitute.
At the other end, there was precious little to excite the visiting faithful from Wigan - who made up over a third of the attendance, and whose sole entertainment in the second half appeared to be failing to return any balls kicked into the away end.
Latics had started the brighter with Haris Vuckic - making his first start since the defeat at Port Vale on September 12 - seeing a couple of shots easily saved.
But once the home side took the lead, there was only going to be one winner.
O’Donnell was another of the four changes made by Gary Caldwell, and the ex-Walsall stopper will be seeing images of the goal in his nightmares for days to come.
There seemed little danger when Pope directed a rather feeble header right into the goalkeeper’s arms from 10 yards.
The greasy ball had other ideas, though, squirming out of O’Donnell’s reaches and then somehow evading his attempts to regather, eventually finding its way in via a kiss of the post.
O’Donnell, in front of the packed away end, would have been hoping the ground would open up and swallow him whole.
And he was grateful to Bury for handing him a couple of regulation saves within five minutes that would at least have started to rebuild his shattered confidence.
The home side were ruling the roost at this point, and Danny Rose should have made it 2-0 only to nod Chris Hussey’s cross on to the roof of the net when he had to find the top corner.
It took a superb block from Chris McCann to deny Tom Soares as Bury continued to threaten, but the goal that had been coming finally arrived just after the half-hour mark when Francisco Junior lost the ball on the edge of the Bury box.
In fairness to the home side, they countered with incredible speed, with Mellis outpacing Daviud Perkins and picking the perfect moment to release Mayor.
The midfielder couldn’t miss, and indeed didn’t miss to double Bury’s lead.
The Shakers had, of course, gone 2-0 up in the league game on this ground only last month, and there would have been a few hearts in mouths when Latics threatened a response straight away.
Will Grigg was inches away from getting on the end of Reece James’ cross, before strike partner Craig Davies rolled his man only to aim his shot straight at the goalkeeper
However, any hopes of Latics pulling off a similar comeback were rocked right on the stroke of half-time.
Pope it was again causing problems, with Cameron on hand to apply the final touch past a helpless O’Donnell.
Caldwell made a double change at the interval, sending on Yanic Wildschut and Michael Jacobs for Vuckic and Grigg.
In truth, Caldwell could have withdrawn any of his players, such was the abject manner of the first-half performance.
And the changes did little to rally the visitors, with Bury continuing to look the more likely scorers.
A Hussey free-kick forced a good save from O’Donnell at his near post, before newcomer Jacobs saw a shot deflected behind for a Latics corner on the hour mark.
That was the signal for ex-Latics man Clarke to make his appearance, and within six minutes he had scored his third goal in three games against his former club.
The cross from the right was a beauty, and Clarke was on hand to force the ball home from close range.
It nearly went from bad to worse for Latics with McCann handling the ball to repel another Bury attack, and perhaps fortunate to escape with only a yellow card with the home fans screaming for red.
Latics’ attempts at even a consolation were being hit by a brick wall, with a big penalty shout for a foul on Jacobs turned down and Davies twice firing wide from good positions.