Wigan went back to the top of the Championship yesterday in a manner that suggests that their mid-season slump is well and truly behind them.
Ending a run of four games that brought them only two points and a single goal with their best win of the season was a good afternoon's work in itself. For their strikers, Nathan Ellington and Jason Roberts, both to break their scoring droughts will do even more for the side's confidence.
Yet this all happened after Preston, who had enjoyed the better of the first half, were denied a perfectly good equaliser.
"The result looks really one-sided, but I was glad to get in at half-time, because they were the better team," said the Latics' manager, Paul Jewell. "Once the second goal went in, we showed our true colours and the confidence came flowing back."
Wigan led through Lee McCulloch's goal when he beat Jonathan Gould to Jimmy Bullard's corner and reacted first when the ball came back off the post to tuck away the rebound.
Preston were denied their equaliser when Chris Lucketti rose above McCulloch to find the net with a powerful header, only to have it ruled out for a push that was undetectable even on the video replay. "If that was as soft a decision as people have told me, it was a big turning point," said the Preston manager, Billy Davies. "But overall we were poor today."
The goal that began the avalanche was beautifully constructed, Ellington turning away from his marker in midfield and sliding his pass through for Roberts, who teed up Alan Mahon, Wigan's best player on the day, for a neat finish.
The familiar double act of Ellington and Roberts was back in business and five minutes later, Roberts forced his way to the byline and chipped the ball delicately for Ellington to head into an empty net.
Ellington's next, a thumping shot from 25 yards, was the 100th of his career, but when Wigan were awarded a penalty for Marlon Broomes' clear trip on Roberts, he unselfishly turned down the chance of a hat-trick.
Ellington's wait for a goal had stretched back to 23 October, Roberts' a week longer, but the former West Brom striker ended it with the spot-kick.
"I thought the score line flattered us a bit," said Jewell, who is attempting to strengthen his squad. "Just because we won 5-0 I won't be burying my head in the sand," he said. "I'm still looking to bring players in."
Goals: McCulloch (27) 1-0; Mahon (52) 2-0; Ellington (57) 3-0; Ellington (72) 4-0; Roberts pen (79) 5-0.
Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Filan; Eaden, Breckin, Jackson, Baines; Teale, Bullard (Wright, 75), Mahon (Flynn, 82), McCulloch; Roberts (Graham, 84), Ellington. Substitutes not used: Walsh (gk), McMillan.
Preston North End (4-4-2): Gould; Alexander, Mawene (Lewis, 59), Lucketti, Davis; Sedgwick, Etuhu, O'Neil, Broomes; Cresswell, Agyemang. Substitutes not used: Ward (gk), Davidson, Daley, Lynch.
Referee: M Atkinson (W Yorkshire).
Booked: Wigan: Bullard. Preston: Broomes, O'Neil.
Man of the match: Mahon.
Attendance: 10,565.Reuse content