Wigan Athletic 0 Sheffield United 3

Lee Evans
Lee Evans

Wigan Athletic kicked off 2019 on the worst possible note with a 3-0 drubbing at the DW Stadium courtesy of Sheffield United.

Paul Cook’s men have now won only one of their last 13 matches, although they remain four points clear of the Championship drop-zone.

They could and should have taken the lead against the Blades, only for Lee Evans - whose move from the South Yorkshire outfit was made permanent hours before the game - somehow fired wide of an open goal.

And the promotion-chasing Blades made Latics pay - and how - after taking firm control of proceedings.

David McGoldrick lashed home the opening goal five minutes before the break after Christian Walton could only parry out the first effort.

Mark Duffy made it 2-0 three minutes into the second period thanks to great work from Billy Sharp, after a Wigan corner had been quickly cleared.

And Sharp himself - who netted a hat-trick in the corresponding fixture at Bramall Lane in October - scored the third goal himself on 54 minutes, with Walton again helpless.

Aside from Evans’ glaring miss, Latics failed to create much in the way of chances, with Joe Garner - the two-goal hero from Saturday’s draw at Swansea - feeding off scraps.

Indeed, the visitors could have won by even more after squandering several other opportunities.

The first of these arrived inside 10 minutes, with McGoldrick cutting back inside when he had ample chance to shoot, only to be crowded out.

Latics were grateful to Evans for breaking up another promising Blades move that had entered the home penalty area, with Chey Dunkley producing a fine block to deny Duffy.

When they did push forward, the home side looked capable of causing a problem or two.

Garner looked favourite to get his head to an inviting cross from Reece James before Martin Craine intervened.

Latics came closer still moments later when a Gavin Massey shot was parried out to Evans, who inexplicably steered the ball wide when it seemed easier to score.

And the Blades took full advantage of their let-off by taking the lead just before the break through McGoldrick, who almost ripped the net from 10 yards after Walton had parried a shot into his path.

McGoldrick looked likely to make it two moments later, only for Dunkley to somehow get back and deny him with a superb tackle.

And Oliver Norwood came within a coat of paint of doubling the lead, only to strike the outside of the post with Walton beaten.

Having staggered into the break without further damage, Latics conceded within three minutes of the restart.

The home side were actually on the attack, but a corner was quickly cleared by Henderson, with Sharp finding himself one-on-one with Darron Gibson.

Sharp did ever so well to retain possession long enough to feed Duffy, who controlled the ball in his stride before beating Walton

Despite the introduction of Josh Windass and Callum McManaman, for Gibson and Massey, Latics conceded again within three minutes, Sharp getting the goal his overall display warranted.

And the visitors were content to play out the rest of the game at no more than training-session pace, with Latics having had all the stuffing well and truly knocked out of them over Christmas.