ON THE ground where Hull City’s first relegation from the Premier League had been confirmed a little over eight years earlier, maybe it just had to be.
Josh Windass, son of the man who had ended Hull’s long, long wait for top-flight football, ensured there was no happy return to the DW Stadium for the East Riding club.
His header from inside the six-yard box after the Tigers’ defence had gone AWOL last night may not compare with ‘that’ volley by dad Dean at Wembley in 2008.
But Windass junior’s first goal since returning south from Glasgow Rangers during the summer was still enough to settle an entertaining contest.
His 37th-minute winner meant justice was done on a night when Paul Cook’s men, despite a couple of periods when City enjoyed spells on top, had not only the better chances but also the more impressive performers.
Reece James, in particular, caused all manner of problems when marauding down the right flank for the hosts.
Antonee Robinson also carried a big threat on the opposite wing, the upshot of this attacking play by both full-backs being the likes of Nick Powell and Windass given enough space and time to punish the visitors.
With Samy Morsy also getting involved at every turn, the Tigers had to weather heavy pressure at times and there can be no denying David Marshall was the busier of the two goalkeepers.
He kept out several decent efforts, Robinson and Powell both left scratching their heads in frustration during the second half as Wigan looked to kill off the game.
Michael Jacobs was also denied by a quite wonderful one-handed save from the Hull goalkeeper that, at least, kept the game in the balance until the final whistle.
As for City, there was plenty of grit and battling spirit on show. And had Nouha Dicko managed to marry lively approach play with a predatory instinct then the night may have panned out differently.
The former Mali international never played a league game for Wigan despite spending three years on the club’s books.
He, therefore, must have wanted to show the locals what they had missed out on. Dicko did, admittedly, give Cedric Kipre and Chey Dunkley – as accident-prone a central defensive partnership as the Championship is likely to see this season – a few nervous moments.
But, when it truly mattered, the City striker was unable to deliver the quality that would have left the home fans in the 8,848 crowd believing, ‘That lad is one that got away’.
Three times in the opening quarter, Dicko found himself in a promising position only for the opportunity to go begging.
Typical was the early burst into the area after dispossessing Kipre that ended with Dicko opting not to shoot or cross first time for Chris Martin but, instead, delay the pass long enough for Chey Dunkley to get back and clear.
Dicko had another excellent chance in the second half following a knock-down from Martin. Again, however, he couldn’t capitalise as Christian Walton saved comfortably.
Jarrod Bowen did show his team-mate how it was done three minutes before the break, his composed finish after latching on to a long punt forward being just the fillip Hull needed after falling two goals behind.
The first of those had come on 21 minutes via a bullet of a shot from 30 yards by Morsy. The Latics captain had started yesterday out of Cook’s plans following his red card in the weekend defeat to Brentford.
A successful appeal against that suspension, however, suddenly meant the former Barnsley loanee was back in the side and Morsy made Hull rue the disciplinary chiefs’ change of heart.
Up to that point, City had been lively but Wigan took control and there was no surprise when Windass doubled the home side’s advantage by nodding in a flighted cross from Lee Evans.
Bowen’s second goal in four days just before the break gave the Tigers hope. Dicko and then Fraizer Campbell had chances to level matters but, in truth, Wigan finished the stronger of the two teams.
It meant another disappointing return from Wigan for City, eight or so years on from the day relegation had been confirmed for Iain Dowie’s men by a last minute equaliser from the late Steve Gohouri.
Wigan Athletic: Walton; James, Dunkley, Kipre, Robinson; Morsy, Evans, Jacobs; Powell (Vaughan 89); Windass (Naismith 83), Grigg (Gibson 65). Unused substitutes: Evans, Byrne, Connolly, Garner.
Hull City: Marshall; Lichaj, De Wijs (Evandro 85), Elphick, Kingsley; Bowen, Stewart (Grosicki 75), Henriksen, Irvine; Dicko (Campbell 62), Martin. Unused substitutes: Long, Burke, Kane, Keane.
Referee: D Webb (County Durham).