- First meeting of Lancashire rivals since May 2005
- Early Hugill goal the difference in tight contest
- Three Preston wins in four games in all competitions
- Wigan stay in bottom three and winless in seven games
JORDAN Hugill’s early goal earned Preston North End a third Championship win of the season as they edged Wigan Athletic in the sides’ first Lancashire derby since 2005.
The striker diverted home Aiden McGeady’s mishit effort with his knee to score the only goal after seven minutes.
Hugill was denied a second by a fine low save from Adam Bogdan two minutes after the break.
Wigan dominated for long periods and Nathan Byrne struck the post after being kept out initially by Preston keeper Chris Maxwell, on his league debut.
And the Lilywhites, who had lost six of their previous eight league games, continue their momentum by recording a third win and clean sheet in the league, in front of Deepdale’s biggest crowd so far this term, to move up one place to 18th.
In contrast, Gary Caldwell’s men make the 13-mile journey back down the M6 with the disappointment of failing to make their superiority count still raw as they suffered a fifth defeat in six league games.
The Latics, who have now lost all five of their away games this season, remain 22nd ahead of Saturday’s games and could end the weekend bottom of the table.
The visitors were under severe pressure from the outset and Preston were rewarded for their enterprising start in unorthodox fashion.
McGeady got on the end of Tom Clarke’s knockdown and the Irishman’s half-volley into the ground was innocuously diverted in by Hugill, who notched for the second home game running after his spectacular strike against Cardiff.
But Caldwell pointed to a foul by Clarke on Shaun MacDonald in the build-up, which went unnoticed by the officials.
Shocked into action, the Latics responded well and top scorer Will Grigg could have added to his five goals this term on 17 minutes but headed over Jordi Gomez’s left-wing cross from six yards.
Gomez fired wide of Maxwell’s goal shortly before the break after Max Power’s clever pass around the corner got him clear of the Preston backline.
Preston, without the departed Joe Garner and injured Jermaine Beckford, couldn’t impose themselves in attack, as midweek hat-trick hero Simon Makienok struggled to use his physicality against the equally tall Dan Burn.
Wigan enjoyed 64 per cent of the possession and were the more progressive side in the first half, yet chances were few and far between at both ends.
Preston began the second half the way they started the first and almost doubled their lead within two minutes of the restart.
Alan Browne linked up well with Makienok before setting up Hugill but the former Port Vale striker’s low effort, bound for the bottom corner, was tipped around the post superbly by Bogdan.
Makienok, who scored his first Preston goals on only his second start against Bournemouth on Tuesday, then steered a back-post header from Paul Gallagher’s centre narrowly over the crossbar.
Despite the early introduction of Nick Powell from the bench, the visitors lacked firepower in the final third but Byrne had two quick-fire opportunities to level just after the hour.
The ex-Wolves and Swindon winger, on his first Wigan start, was picked out by Yanic Wildschut from the left, but was denied by the legs of Maxwell before striking the rebound against the post.
Preston’s intentions to protect their advantage were clear, with midfielders Ben Pearson and Daniel Johnson thrown on in place of Makienok and Gallagher to stifle Wigan’s supply lines.
Wigan – who sent on Craig Davies for Byrne in the closing stages – pushed for an equaliser, without ever posing a threat to the hosts’ stubborn defence.
Powell blazed over from 20 yards and Gomez curled a free-kick straight at Maxwell, as a dogged Preston held out to secure back-to-back home wins – and their first victory over the Latics since 2000.
But the problems mount for a frustrated Caldwell and Wigan, whose winless run since their only victory of the campaign against Blackburn on August 13 extends to seven games.
Preston North End 1 (Hugill 7)
Wigan Athletic 0
Subs: Pearson (on for Makienok 72′) and Johnson (on for Gallagher 72′)
Not used: Lindegaard (GK), Huntington, Pringle, Humphrey, Doyle.
Booked: Cunningham (30′), Browne (75′)
Subs: Powell (on for MacDonald 52′), Perkins (on for Jacobs 59′) and Davies (on for Byrne 79′)
Not used: Jaaskelainen (GK), Garbutt, Woolery, Le Fondre.
Booked: Burn (45+1′), Perkins (67′)
Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)
Wigan Athletic boss Gary Caldwell told the club’s official website: