Goals from a superb Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent secured the hosts second win of the season which sent Latics to their fifth consecutive defeat of the season
Goals from Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent were enough to condemn the Latics to their fifth consecutive defeat, as the Villains recorded their first ever home win against Wigan in their seventh attempt.
In truth, they were deserved winners over the 90 minutes, with Agbonlahor in particular putting in an inspired performance against a defence who had no answer to his pace.
Wigan, though, will feel hard done by that they did not receive a penalty when 1-0 down in the second half, when Franco Di Santo appeared to be body-checked by Alan Hutton in the penalty area.
Alex McLeish made a surprise change with Bent being recalled to the side, after spending just one week in training, in place of Charles N’Zogbia who was denied the chance to start against his former side.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez went for a defensive approach, despite his side having scored only five goals in six matches, as Ronnie Stam and Emmerson Boyce replaced Jordi Gomez and the suspended Steve Gohouri, who was sent off against Tottenham Hotspur a week earlier.
Neither side were able to take charge of the early stages, with Agbonlahor cutting in from the left but seeing his shot deflected and loop to goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, whilst at the other end Gary Caldwell almost got a touch to Ben Watson’s dangerous corner which would have diverted it towards goal.
The home side nearly took the lead after 10 minutes when Bent flicked Barry Bannan’s dink into the area back towards Agbonlahor, but he disappointingly volleyed over with his left foot from 12 yards out.
Caldwell was booked for an elbow on the striker when challenging for a header and from the free-kick on the left, Bent headed Bannan’s cross over.
The Scot was making some delightful passes into the area and another flighted ball fell into the path of Bent in the area, who cut in past Maynor Figueroa and Patrick Van Aanholt with one touch and volleyed at goal with his left foot from 12 yards out but Al Habsi batted the ball away at the second attempt for a corner which eventually came to nothing.
Wigan were by no means being dominated, but their only efforts on goal were 25 yard shots from Mohamed Diame and Stam which did not threaten Shay Given, whilst at the other end Stephen Ireland also missed the target twice from outside the area.
The breakthrough came after 35 minutes for the home side, courtesy of a great strike from Agbonlahor.
Stephen Warnock dispossessed Diame in his own half before giving the ball to Bannan, whose pass down the left set the striker running against Caldwell.
With nobody to support him, Caldwell was turned inside and out before Agbonlahor cut in and slammed a shot high into Al Habsi’s near post which the goalkeeper could do nothing about.
But the Latics almost went into the break level after Fabian Delph, who had been having a difficult game, gifted possession to Watson in his own half.
The away side were able to break, with Victor Moses feeding Di Santo on the right-hand side of the area, but under pressure from James Collins he could only hit his shot just wide of Given’s right-hand post.
Cheers Gabby | Bent celebrates after slotting home Agbonlahor's cross to make it 2-0
Within one minute of the second-half remaining it could have been a second for Agbonlahor after another great solo run. Again cutting in from the left, he skipped past three Wigan players but his curled shot went just wide of the far post.
Minutes later, Delph fed Bent down the right-hand side of the penalty area but his shot was blocked by a diving Caldwell.
However, the most contentious moment of the match came soon after as Di Santo looked to have been bodychecked by Alan Hutton in the penalty area after a strong run which had seen him go past Bannan and a limp challenge from Collins.
But despite his protests, referee Mark Clattenburg waved away his appeals whilst Villa broke and almost doubled their lead as Al Habsi had to pull off a great one-handed save to deny Bannan from 25 yards out.
Despite the second half being just 10 minutes old, both managers made changes, with James McArthur coming on for Stam and Emile Heskey replacing Ireland who appeared to be injured.
The home side then doubled their lead and again it was all down to Agbonlahor.
After robbing McCarthy down the left, he stormed past Boyce before chipping a cross to the back post where Bent was all alone to tap in.
McLeish would have expected an easy afternoon after the second goal, but they nearly allowed Wigan back into the match, as Caldwell only just failed to slide in Watson’s great free-kick from the left.
Al-Habsi was in action once again, making a replica save to the one he made form Bannan earlier, but this time the shot came from Petrov.
Shaun Moloney came on to face his former side, replacing Diame to decent applause from the home fans, but he almost ruined that good faith straight away, getting on to the end of Moses’ through ball before seeing his shot smothered by Given, who then saved Di Santo’s rebound.
N'Zogbia came on to face his former side, but in a tame ending to the match, it was Moses who came closest to scoring as he shot narrowly over from wide on the left.
Andreas Weismann came on for his debut for Villa in the last few minutes, replacing Agbonlahor who got a deserved standing ovation for his performance.
Given then had to be alert to tip away Moses' shot which deflected off substitute Connor Sammon whilst at the other end Weismann had a decent chance to open his account but shot straight at Al Habsi
The final whistle blew after four minutes of stoppage time, giving the hosts a win which keeps them unbeaten and leaves Wigan struggling once again at the foot of the table.