Date: Wednesday 1st January 2014
Venue: The iPro Stadium
Referee: David Webb
Continuing their fine run of form under Uwe Rosler, Wigan Athletic defeated a Derby County side that hadn’t lost in nine before New Year’s Day.
It took a wonder strike from Jean Beausejour to win a scrappy game in which the Latics stopped Derby from playing the way that they wanted to.
The opening stages saw Wigan being the dominant side which left the Rams to rely on quick breaks for their early chances.
Derby County were lucky that Wigan’s shooting skills were awful in the first half as Nick Powell shot wide from 18 yards after being played in by Roger Espinoza. Then a daisy cutter from Ivan Ramis was saved by Lee Grant before the Spaniard went down injured and was substituted for Stephen Crainey.
Emmerson Boyce was the next Wigan player to see an attempt go wide of the post as he headed from a well-taken Crainey free kick.
As Wigan continued to push up the pitch towards the end of the first half, James McArthur fizzed a shot just over the bar and Espinoza shot into the ground from 8 yards and really should have troubled Grant in the Derby goal.
The second half became scrappy and not much was happening in the way of chances until a cross was played to Marc-Antoine Fortune who should have got a toe to the ball and put Wigan in front.
In the 69th minute, it was Wigan who took a deserved lead through the unlikely source of Beausejour. Powell won a corner after dribbling the ball to the touchline from inside his own half and Beausejour took it short to substitute, Callum McManaman. McManaman thought about crossing the ball but instead passed back to Beausejour who took a touch and smacked the ball into the far left corner of the net, beating Grant outright.
Suddenly the game became much more open and the Latics were forced to defend for their lives as Ali Al-Habsi saved from Simon Dawkins, Will Hughes and former Wigan man, Conor Sammon.
In the dying minutes, Derby County should have equalised as Andre Wisdom played in a superb ball which Chris Martin got on the end of, only to see the shot go wide of the post.
Although Wigan seem less than prolific in front of goal, the rest of the team is completely organised and they are simply not conceding goals (the win at Derby was Wigan’s third clean sheet in a row). A little more firepower needed up front and this Wigan side could easily make the play-offs this season.