The unfamiliar facial furniture sported by Phil Brown happens to be a moustache the Hull City manager is growing for charity. After watching this largely self-inflicted defeat, his next fund-raising venture ought to be volunteering to go prematurely grey, because on this evidence it will prove a far easier method of doing his bit for a worthy cause.
Wigan were grateful recipients of the hosts' gifts as they belatedly opened their points account with a victory which rarely looked in doubt thanks to a performance laced with the kind of assured confidence which comes with being given a two-goal start. "It's arguably the worst we've played this season," Steve Bruce, the manager, said. Victory came at a cost with Kevin Kilbane today undergoing surgery on a fractured cheekbone. "The statistics show how vital that first goal is in the Premier League because when you're chasing a game at this level, it's hard."
Hull were undone by two early corners to render the remaining 77 minutes little more than an exercise in shutting the barn door after the horse had long since bolted. Even more worryingly, the second of the two pivotal corners was their own.
"It's a tough one to swallow," admitted Brown. Paul McShane, the defender signed yesterday from Sunderland, is likely to be kept busy on his season's loan.
Brown added: "Wigan had five shots on target and scored five times, is that a gulf in class? I don't think so. With our injuries I had to put a Championship team out and Wigan exploited that." Minor details often make a significant difference, and had Samuel Ricketts been stationed on the near post, rather than a yard from it, then in all probability Hull would not have gifted Wigan a fifth-minute lead.
Kilbane's woeful inswinging corner should have been met with a routine clearance from a correctly stationed defender. Ricketts was anything but, and in his efforts to block the low centre while facing his own goal he sliced the ball past Boaz Myhill. If falling to one sucker punch was unfortunate, succumbing to a second so soon after was simply careless, especially after they appeared to be rallying from such an awful start. The evidence was Geovanni being denied an equaliser by a hurried block from Emmerson Boyce.
Rather than the resulting corner allowing Hull to gain further momentum, it led to Wigan doubling their advantage. Andy Dawson's centre was headed clear to Amr Zaki, whose lofted punt from barely outside his own area met Antonio Valencia at halfway. The midfielder easily outpaced Wayne Brown and Ian Ashbee to put him clean through.
A calm finish through the keeper's legs from a dozen yards ensured Valencia's efforts were fully rewarded. Hull threatened to make a game of it immediately after the restart, with Michael Turner heading narrowly over while Chris Kirkland saved smartly from Richard Garcia.
With Hull unable to make the most of their brief ascendency, Wigan showed them how it should be done courtesy of two further goals inside five minutes midway through the half.
Zaki made the most of the open spaces he found in the area to dispatch a Wilson Palacios centre into the bottom corner from 15 yards, before Emile Heskey, pouncing on Brown's inept attempt to deal with a booming Kirkland clearance, slotted in the fourth from a diminishing angle. Zaki, with his fourth goal in a highly encouraging start to the season, completed the turkey shoot nine minutes from time, the Egyptian's thunderous right-foot shot from the angle of the area striking the underside of the bar before clearly bouncing over the line. "All those scouting trips to Cairo were worthwhile," Bruce added.Reuse content