He will feel better now. One clean sheet, a deserved win over a poor Sunderland side and suddenly life looks much rosier for Kirkland.
The former Liverpool keeper did not actually have a shot to save from Sunderland, who can assume their backsides will be kicked by their fed-up manager Steve Bruce this week.
A shot at redemption: Kirkland celebrates Wigan's winner
Kirkland said: 'What happened will live with me for ever, long after I have hung up my boots. It was a horrendous week for me, the worst of my life. But it has to be a turning point.'
Sunderland were weak, although with more composure Darren Bent and Fraizer Campbell might have cancelled out Hugo Rodallega's winner.
The Colombia striker held off Paulo Da Silva's powder-puff challenge before finishing past Marton Fulop.
Relief: Rodallega hails his priceless strike
'He didn't look a bad signing today, did he?' said the Sunderland boss, who bought Rodallega for Wigan.
Bruce made no changes following his side's win over Arsenal, but admitted he may have picked the wrong team.
He is, however, running out of patience with players who have won just once on their travels in 17 games, adding: 'I feel I have let down the 5,500 people who came here. If we can't perform in front of that there is something wrong and I have to address it.'
WIGAN ATHLETIC (4-2-3-1): Kirkland 7; Melchiot 6, Boyce 7, Bramble 6, Figueroa 7; Thomas 6, Diame 6; Rodallega 8, Scharner 7, N'Zogbia 7; Scotland 6 (Gomez 54min, 7).
SUNDERLAND (4-5-1): Fulop 5; Bardsley 7, Turner 6, Da Silva 5 (Zenden 84), McCartney 5 (Healy 84); Malbranque 4 (Campbell 46, 5), Henderson 6, Cana 7, Richardson 5, Reid 5; Bent 5. Booked: Turner, Reid, Bent.
Man of the match: Hugo Rodallega.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
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