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Preston North End 4 Wigan Athletic 0

Darron Gibson is sent off at Preston
Darron Gibson is sent off at Preston

Darron Gibson was sent off as Wigan Athletic crashed to a woeful 4-0 hiding at a Preston side who’d started the day rooted to the foot of the Championship table.

And if anything the scoreline flattered the visitors, who no-showed across the park, with only on-loan Chelsea right-back Reece James emerging with any credit.

Preston started well and opened the scoring on 17 minutes when Alan Browne played in Tom Barkhuizen, whose shot went through Antonee Robinson’s legs and under Christian Walton.

Latics managed to get through to half-time without further damage, but dodged another bullet shortly after the restart when Alan Browne smashed a shot that beat Walton but hit the underside of the bar, before bouncing on the goalline and away.

Goal number two duly arrived on 51 minutes when Callum Robinson slotted past Walton from close range, and Wigan’s task became even more hopeless when Gibson was dismissed for lunging in on Ben Pearson five minutes later.

Preston had to wait until five minutes from time to make the game totally safe, with substitute Paul Gallagher converting from the penalty spot after Dan Burn - making his first appearance of the season - fouled Lukas Nmecha.

And the crowning turd in the water pipe arrived in the last of the six added minutes, when Sean Maguire’s cross was finished off by Robinson - who met the ball at the same time as Burn - with Walton again helpless.

To make matters worse, Latics lost star man Nick Powell to injury at the end of the first half, and boss Paul Cook will welcome the forthcoming international break to try to put things right.

It was hardly the response Cook was looking for after claiming pre-match his side wouldn’t be showing up at Deepdale merely to defend.

Sadly, those words came back to haunt him as his side - for the first time on his watch - resembled a sieve at the back.

After edging the opening exchanges, North End went ahead with their first real effort on goal.

And it was a goal neither Robinson nor Walton will want to see again, as Barkhuizen found the back of the net with a goal that really should have been prevented.

Latics created half a chance at the other end when a deep cross from Michael Jacobs was missed by goalkeeper Chris Maxwell, only for the ball to hit Powell rather than the other way round, before being hacked away from the six-yard box.

Powell then required lengthy treatment after being cynically taken down in the centre-circle by his former Manchester United reserve colleague Pearson, at the expense of a yellow card. that may even have been red on another day

Fortunately Powell was able to continue - albeit gingerly - but it wasn’t long before it kicked off again, this time after Robinson’s crude hack at the breaking Sam Morsy.

Players from both sides flew in to offer their opinion with Josh Windass pushing Browne in the chest, resulting in cautions for the Latics man, for his reaction, and Robinson for the initial indiscretion.

When the football resumed, Latics were perhaps fortunate to avoid conceding a penalty when Cedric Kipre challenged Nmecha in the box, and appeared on the replay to get very little of the ball, and quite a lot of his opponent.

Thankfully the official waved play on, but a mistake from Chey Dunkley opened the door again before the covering Gibson spared his blushes.

Latics suffered a blow right on half-time when Powell was forced to quit, having failed to overcome the earlier challenge from Pearson, with centre-back Burn surprisingly the man coming on, resulting in a switch to three at the back.

There was still time before the whistle for Robinson to fire inches wide of the far post, and it was more of the same within seconds of the restart as Barkhuizen skinned Burn only to overhit his cross.

An even bigger let-off for Latics followed when, after Burn couldn’t clear his lines, the ball fell to Browne, whose blistering strike smacked down off the underside the bar and onto the goalline before being cleared.

Sensing they were riding their luck, Latics enjoyed a decent spell with James getting forward from right-back and twice testing Maxwell with good efforts.

But it all went wrong around the hour mark, with Robinson doubling the Preston lead after good work from Daniel Johnson, before Gibson was given a straight red for a crazy challenge on Pearson on the far side.

Robinson had to clear off his own line as North End sensed blood, with Latics sending on former Deepdale hero Joe Garner and Callum McManaman to try to turn around an increasingly hopeless situation.

Garner was immediately into the action, being penalised for a foul in the box when he thought he was being impeded by a home defender.

McManaman too was quickly into his strike, and had half a shout for a spot-kick of his own after being felled by the goalline.

There was to be late goal action, but unfortunately it was at the wrong end as Burn tripped Nmecha in the box allowing Gallagher to beat Walton from 12 yards.

And salt was added to the gaping Wigan wounds in the dying seconds as Robinson - or was it Burn - got the final touch to Maguire’s delivery from the left.