WIGAN ATHLETIC 0 DERBY COUNTY 2Second half strikes from Chris Martin and Darren Bent were enough to condemn Latics to defeat against a play-off chasing Derby side, after a first half performance which showed so much promise.
Wigan Athletic had looked so bright in the first half, with a spirited display which saw James McClean somehow denied by a great Lee Grant save, before the visitors took control in the second interval and put Latics to the sword.
Malky Mackay made two changes to the side which lost a Middlesbrough on Good Friday, with William Kvist and Marc-Antoine Fortune coming for Jermaine Pennant and Josh Murphy. The game saw an impressive landmark for Emmerson Boyce, who started his 250th game for the club.
Latics made a bold start to the contest, and their fighting spirit was evident from the onset, with Kim Bo-Kyung catching the eye in the final third with his skill and determination down both flanks.
The first opportunity for Latics came in the eighth minute through James Perch, who forced a nervous clearance from the visiting Derby back line, after looping a header at the back post into the six yard area.
Marc-Antoine Fortune was catching the eye upfront, and his dogged determination won Latics a corner on the break three minutes later, when he burst forward from the half way line on the break and forced the set piece.
Latics continued to have the better of the play, and produced their first distinct opportunity at Lee Grant’s goal on the 25 minute mark through Kim Bo-Kyung, who was fed after good link up play between James McClean and Gaetan Bong on the left, before firing a low effort at Grant from the edge of the area.
The play-off chasing side were struggling to deal with the intensity of Latics’ play, and the hosts’ determination was summed up in the 34th minute through Jason Pearce, who simply would not let a ball die, and produced a crunching tackle on Derby forward Johnny Russell.
The visitors were distinctly rattled by Wigan Athletic’s style of play and attitude, and Mackay’s men went unbelievably close to going in front two minutes later through James McClean, who latched onto Kim Bo’ cross from the right and forced a great save from Grant with his bullet header.
Wigan Athletic continued to push until the interval, and they were almost punished for not taking initiative, with Pearce’s goal line clearance from a corner in the dying seconds sealing a goalless first half.
Derby County took notice of Wigan’s attitude from the first half, and the visitors came out with much more vigour in the second interval, pushing forward from the outset.
It wasn’t long before it paid dividends, with the visitors taking the lead six minutes into the half through Chris Martin, who lashed the ball home from 12 yards with the visitors’ first real chance of the contest.
It was a crushing blow for Latics, who had played so well in the first half, but the visitors were merciless, and continued to pour forward in the second interval.
The visitors continued to push, and could have doubled their advantage 20 minutes into the half through Thomas Ince, who latched onto Darren Bent’s through ball, before lifting his effort over the bar.
Despite Derby’s dominance however, they were lacking in clinical chances, which left the door open for Latics.
Wigan Athletic almost took advantage through James McClean, who couldn’t quite lift the ball over Grant, when Josh Murphy’s deflected shot found its way into his path.
The visitors continued to hold firm however, and sealed the points nine minutes from time through former England international Darren Bent, who latched onto the ball in the six yard box to blast the ball past Ali Al Habsi.
Latics fought until the bitter end, with substitute Martyn Waghorn throwing himself at every ball, but the visitors held firm to inflict defeat on Malky Mackay’s men.