Preston 4-0 Wigan: Thumping win for North End
Pressure lifts on Alex Neil after big win at Deepdale.
Last Updated: 06/10/18 6:36pm
A Callum Robinson double plus strikes from Tom Barkhuizen and Paul Gallagher helped Preston earn Lancashire bragging rights with a 4-0 win against 10-man Wigan.
Promoted Wigan have had a far more vibrant start to the Sky Bet Championship season than the Lilywhites and they went into this clash at Deepdale in ninth place with five wins - yet only one on the road - while the home side are looking like relegation favourites as they started the match in bottom spot.
However, Preston are having no problems scoring goals, as Tuesday's 3-3 rollercoaster with Aston Villa proved, and they twisted the knife at the crucial moments in this occasionally bad-tempered encounter.
Wigan enjoyed three corners in the opening moments but Paul Cook's side failed to make their early possession count for much.
And Preston were no better until Barkhuizen put them in front after 17 minutes.
After some patient build-up on the edge of the box, Alan Browne threaded a pass through to Barkhuizen on the right and his low shot from 12 yards out squirmed under Christian Walton.
Tempers began to fray towards the break as Browne stupidly tripped Sam Morsy before Josh Windass then aggressively pushed Browne in response.
Seconds later, Cédric Kipré dived into a tackle with Lukas Nmecha inside the area but referee Lee Probert waved away Preston's furious penalty claims as the first half ended just as the match was coming to life.
Preston then had an explosive opening to the second half as Browne crashed an effort against the crossbar before Robinson went one better, doubling Preston's lead in the 52nd minute as he kept his nerve on the edge of the six-yard box to slot past Walton.
Wigan's hopes of clawing their way back into the match took a further blow after 56 minutes when Darron Gibson was shown a straight red card after a clumsy tackle on Ben Pearson down the left wing.
Shortly afterwards, Wigan manager Cook was booked for dissent and Wigan became more direct and sparkier as they began to chase the game. Will Grigg followed Cook into the book for one clumsy foul as the visitors looked to now hit Preston on the break.
The home side got nervier as the end approached but the match - and Preston's first Championship win since the opening day - was finally confirmed in the 85th minute when substitute Gallagher crashed home a penalty after Nmecha had been dragged down in the area.
Robinson then added further gloss to the scoreline as he clipped home a fourth from close range in the sixth minute of injury time.
Alex Neil: "Winning 4-0 and scoring four goals is obviously pleasing but we have been scoring goals regularly, the most pleasing thing for me is the clean sheet. I was worried until the third and fourth. But if I had needed to write a script for that would have been it. I thought they were good. There are still things we can improve on but it's more about the points.
"It's pleasing to get that clean sheet. That has got to be your foundation. Everyone is a hell of a lot happier now. We go forward with more optimism than before. Everyone will go home a lot happier tonight and it means we will be going in to the international break in much better spirits."
Paul Cook: "When you're managing a club like I am and you start with our aspirations, along the way you're going to get massive disappointments and this is probably the biggest disappointment I've had since I started managing the club.
"We have underachieved for our fans and they go home hurt and I'm as hurt as them. The best team won the game, I have no complaints about that. Preston fully deserved the win. They had more appetite and created more chances than us and we just flirted with what we were trying to do. When you're not great at both ends of the pitch then this is what happens."