Wigan 3 Aston Villa 0 - Report
Villa blew another chance to close on the Championship top six as they collapsed to an embarrassing defeat at struggling Wigan.
Gary Roberts opened the scoring when he lashed home an Anthony Pilkington cross just before the break.
Late goals from Michael Jacobs and Joe Garner, the latter from the penalty spot, then sealed a first win since November for the hosts.
Villa’s best chance fell to Tammy Abraham but their top scorer shot wide of the target.
That opportunity came inside the opening 10 minutes and had it gone in, the game would perhaps have turned out differently.
Instead, Villa slumped to by far their heaviest defeat of Dean Smith’s reign and hit arguably their lowest point of the season to date.
Wigan entered the game having lost six out of their last seven and positioned precariously above the relegation zone.
But they fairly cruised to only a second win since October, with lacklustre Villa not forcing home goalkeeper Jamie Jones into a save all game.
The defeat leaves Smith’s men five points off the top six but now down to 12th in the table and the notion they can close the gap on those above them would appear, at least on this evidence, almost laughable.
Villa have now won just one of seven in the league and Smith now faces a huge task in turning around a season in serious danger of unravelling.
The visiting line-up featured four changes from the team which drew 2-2 with QPR last time out in the Championship.
It included a league debut for goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic, while Neil Taylor, Anwar El Ghazi and Yannick Bolasie also came into the starting XI.
James Bree, meanwhile, kept his place at right-back, with Alan Hutton dropping to the bench.
There was no place in the matchday squad for Ahmed Elmohamady or Jonathan Kodjia, the latter missing out through injury.
Kalinic had endured a nightmare start in the previous weekend’s FA Cup defeat to Swansea, when he was left picking the ball out of his net inside two minutes.
Yet here he showed excellent reflexes to prevent his team conceding early again.
Skipper James Chester was guilty of losing possession and when Reece James whipped in a cross, could only deflect the ball into the path of midfielder Josh Windass.
The midfielder hit the ball first time toward goal but Kalinic proved equal to it, saving with his legs.
Having survived the scare, Villa were then left wondering how they weren’t ahead as Abraham missed the kind of chance he would typically convert with his eyes closed.
A slip by Cedric Kipre presented Yannick Bolasie with the ball 25 yards from goal and he wasted little time playing in his team-mate.
Abraham had just goalkeeper Jamie Jones to beat but lifted a first-time shot wide of the target.
It turned out to be by far and away Villa’s best chance of the opening half as, after an extended period where both teams struggled in the wind and rain, it was the hosts who finally got to grips with the conditions to take a lead into the break.
Kalinic could count himself somewhat unlucky, having again done well to keep out a Joe Garner header at the far post.
But the ball stayed in play and when Anthony Pilkington blew past Taylor into the box, his pull back was slammed into the net by Roberts.
Villa looked to increase the pace early in the second half but the best chance prior to the hour mark went to the hosts, with Windass drilling a shot from the edge of the box wide.
Smith made a triple change, introducing Glenn Whelan, Albert Adomah and debutant Kortney Hause.
But barring an Adomah cross which was missed by the home defence, the visitors created little in the way of trouble.
Instead it was Wigan who would ultimately cost to victory.
Jacobs doubled the lead when he headed home a deep cross from former Wolves team-mate Lee Evans.
Garner then compounded Villa’s misery from the spot, after Whelan had been rather harshly adjudged to have fouled Windass.
41 - GOAL - Gary Roberts fires Wigan ahead, blasting past Lovre Kalinic from Anthony Pilkington’s cross.
79 - GOAL Substitute Michael Jacobs doubles the Wigan lead, heading home Lee Evans’s deep cross.
83 - GOAL Joe Garner strokes home from the spot after Glenn Whelan is adjudged to have fouled Josh Windass.
Wigan (4-1-4-1): Walton, James, Kipre, Dunkley, Naismith, Morsy ©, Pilkington (Jacobs 60), Roberts (Byrne 71), Evans, Windass, Garner (Vaughan 88) Subs not used: Grigg, McManaman, Connolly, Walton (gk).
Villa (4-3-3): Kalinic, Bree, Elphick (Hause 63), Chester (c), Taylor, McGinn, Bjarnason (Whelan 63), Hourihane, El Ghazi (Adomah 63), Abraham, Bolasie Subs not used: Hogan, Davis, Hutton, Steer (gk).