It was a family affair in Suffolk as Steve Bruce took his Wigan Athletic side to Portman Road to take on an Ipswich Town side which contained his son Alex in the starting line up.
The bragging rights however returned to the North West with the Premier League side easing past their Championship opponents courtesy of a much improved second half performance.
Bruce Snr. signalled his intentions for the tie, if not the competition, when he named a strong squad to take on Jim Magilton’s side with the Wigan manager opting against making sweeping changes from the team that drew with Spurs at the weekend.
Amr Zaki and Emile Heskey continued in attack and keeper Chris Kirkland kept his spot in the starting eleven alongside Paul Scharner, who returned to his position in the heart of defence alongside Titus Bramble.
Lee Cattermole returned from suspension which meant that Mike Pollitt was the only keeper warming the bench this time out and Michael Brown was again missing from the team sheet due to compassionate leave.
Ipswich were the first off the blocks and Kirkland was called into action as early as the fourth minute when he denied ex-Plymouth midfielder David Norris.
The home side could then easily have caved in after a period of pressure from Wigan with keeper Richard Wright doing well to tip Heskey’s effort around the post with just over 12 minutes on the clock.
However The Tractor Boys came back with all guns blazing and could have taken the advantage through Jon Walters just before the half hour mark but last season’s leading scorer blazed over from yards out after Kevin Lisbie had put him in.
Ipswich continued to press and Tommy Miller was unfortunate not to have added to his tally for the season when his shot was deflected behind for a corner from which Bruce Jnr. had his header cleared off the line by Cattermole although he could possibly feel hard done by with the ball appearing to have crossed the line before it was knocked upfield.
The threat refused to go away and seconds later former Bolton midfielder Ivan Campo had his header cleared off the line, this time from former Ipswich favourite Titus Bramble.
Wigan weathered the storm and produced a couple of notable chances of their own before the break with Heskey bringing the best out of the Ipswich keeper with his low shot and then seconds before the whistle Wright, enjoying his second spell at the club, tipped Amr Zaki’s free kick against the bar.
Whatever Steve Bruce’s half time team talk contained certainly did the trick and after a relatively slow start to the second half Latics eventually secured the lead – albeit not exactly in the classiest of fashions.
Wilson Palacios’ 52nd minute free kick from 20-yards out proved too strong for Wright who could only push the ball away as far as the incoming LEE CATTERMOLE who in all honesty didn’t have to do very much as the ball bounced off his shin pads and over the line.
Less than 10 minutes and Ipswich were back on level terms after Alan Quinn picked out JON WALTERS with his cross from the left and the Birkenhead born striker made no mistake with his volley at the far post.
Wigan then stepped up a gear and Kilbane was unlucky with his header from a Valencia flag kick moments later and then regained their advantage shortly after that.
Kilbane sent a ball into the box which OLIVIER KAPO rattled home after Heskey had nodded it down to the French midfielder.
A third arrived with 20 minutes left on the clock when PAUL SCHARNER prodded home from close range following a Zaki knock down from a Kilbane corner.
Stoppage time saw Wigan add a fourth to slightly flatter the scoreline and it was substitute HENRI CAMARA who was on hand to flick a head over Wright after Bramble had rocketed a volley towards the ground from a Daniel de Ridder corner.
All in all a good night for Steve Bruce and Wigan who extended their unbeaten run to five games and for the second consecutive Carling Cup outing have found the back of the net on four occasions which can only increase confidence in the camp.
All eyes are now on Sunday’s televised encounter at the JJB Stadium when mega bucks Manchester City come to town smarting after being dumped out of the Carling Cup at the hands of League One side Brighton.
Report by John Heeley