Goals from a superb Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent secured the hosts' second win of the season which sent the Latics to their fifth consecutive defeat of the season
Goals from Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent were enough to send the Latics to their fifth consecutive defeat as the Villains recorded their first ever home win against Wigan in their seventh attempt. In truth, Villa was a deserved winner over the 90 minutes, with Agbonlahor in particular putting in an inspired performance against a defense which had no answer to his pace.
Wigan, though, will feel hard done by that it did not receive a penalty when 1-0 down in the second half when Franco Di Santo appeared to be bodychecked 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, replacing 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 just scored 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 was able to take charge of the early stages, though Agbonlahor for Villa and Gary Caldwell for Wigan had decent looks in on either end of the field. 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.
Barry Bannan and Bent formed an understanding as the game played out, with the young Scot setting Bent up on a pair of occassions, only to be foiled by Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi both times.
Wigan was by no means being dominated, but its only efforts on goal were 25 yard shots from Mohamed Diame and Stam which did not threaten Shay Given, while 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 disposed 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.
Despite a poor giveaway from Villa's Fabian Delph leading to a Wigan counterattack, Franco Di Santo was unable to get on the end of a well-worked move, leaving Villa ahead at the break.
Aston Villa came out looking for a second, and Agbonlahor nearly had it a minute in after just missing the far post following an excellent solo effort. Bent also had a shot blocked by Caldwell as the home side pushed forward.
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 while 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.
Just after the hour mark, the home side then doubled its lead and again it was all down to Agbonlahor. After robbing McCarthy down the left, he then 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 Wigan was nearly back in the match as Caldwell only just failed to slide in Watson’s great free kick from the left.
The back and forth continued, as Al-Habsi made another good save to deny Petrov, while Wigan substitute Shaun Maloney nearly caused his former side some problems before his shot was smothered by Shay Given, who also blocked Di Santo's rebound.
N'Zogbia also 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. Moses nearly got his goal late on with the help of a wicked deflection, but Given was alert enough to tip the shot away.
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.