Wigan Athletic 4 Blackpool 0

Gary Caldwell
Gary Caldwell

A BRILLIANT brace from Jordy Hiwula provided the gloss as Wigan Athletic painted the town blue to move within two steps of Wembley in the JPT.

Latics bounced back from their FA Cup humiliation at Bury with an equally-emphatic thumping of Blackpool to advance to the northern area semi-finals of a competition they have twice won - in 1985 and 1999.

And they barely had to get out of second gear to do so, with the visitors offering absolutely nothing in the way of a threat all night.

Making 10 changes from the weekend - and also 10 changes from the last league game against Swindon - Gary Caldwell saw his side slip into gear right from the off.

They took the lead on 20 minutes when Don Cowie’s flick found Hiwula, who finished magnificently into the bottom corner.

Latics had to wait until the hour mark to double their advantage, midfielder Sean Murray smashing into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

Yanic Wildschut took just six minutes after his introduction at the three-quarter mark to make it three, cutting in from the left-hand side and drilling past Kyle Letheren.

And Latics were presented with number four when Hiwula’s goalbound shot was brilliantly saved on the edge of the six-yard box by Blackpool defender Luke Higham.

Incredibly, Higham was given only a yellow card by referee Andrew Madley, but the respite was only temporary as Hiwula stroked home the penalty to make it 4-0.

And the on-loan Huddersfield man - who had earlier seen a goal disallowed for offside - almost completed his hat-trick in bizarre style in the closing stages.

A left-wing cross was wildly hooked back across goal by substitute Donervon Daniels into the path of the former Manchester City junior, whose snap-shot flew inches over the top.

Hiwula clearly has a liking for this tournament, having bagged a couple of important goals in the last round at Crewe Alexandra.

He was quickly into the game here, and only denied an early goal by good reactions at the near post from Pool goalkeeper Letheren.

Leon Barnett came closer still when he steered an Andy Kellett corner towards goal, only for Kwame Thomas to clear off the line.

But the goal that had been coming finally arrived on 20 minutes, with Hiwula coolly finishing after good work from Cowie.

The goalscorer squandered another chance moments later, lashing way over the top after a lovely dummy from Davies had allowed Tim Chow to set up the chance.

Davies himself was then inches away from applying the finishing touch to a teasing cross from Cowie.

Hiwula was similarly frustrating when trying to get on the end of a neat ball from Davies, who was rolling his marker at every opportunity and looking back to his unplayable best.

As half-time approached, the ex-Bolton man Davies again got the better of the defence, but could only pull the ball wide of the target.

The visitors showed for the first - and only - time at the start of the second period, Jarrett Rivers seeing a flick easily saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen.

With the game losing a bit of its tempo as the hour mark approached, it was kicked back into life when Murray went crashing into John Herron for an obvious caution.

The on-loan Watford man has endured a patchy Latics career to date, but he showed what he can do a couple of minutes later by leathering past Letheren to double the Latics lead.

That was the signal for Davies to make way for Wildschut, who promptly added number three within six minutes of coming on.

The Dutchman’s goal wasn’t quite as impressive as his winner at Crewe in the last round, but it was still far too good for the beaten goalkeeper at full stretch at full stretch.

Letheren’s night went from bad to worse inside the last 15 minutes as he went down in a heap during the incident that led to Wigan’s last goal from the penalty spot.

After lengthy treatment, the Pool goalkeeper was stretchered off as team-mate Higham was only yellow-carded for clearly handballing Hiwula’s shot as it was going in.

The striker wasn’t to be denied, though, despatching the spot-kick with aplomb.

And he almost completed what would have been a deserved hat-trick in the closing stages, only to see a left-foot strike fly just over the top of substitute stopper Myles Boney’s goal.