TWO goals in the first 12 minutes saw Wigan Athletic claim back-to-back wins with a 2-1 victory over Reading.
Chris McCann and Nick Powell both netted during a blistering start to give Latics fans a very merry Christmas at the Madejski Stadium.
Wigan rode the storm somewhat in the second half with Billy Sharp missing a penalty for Reading before Pavel Pogrebnyak pulled a goal back.
But the visitors hung on for a big win against a side who are currently sitting in a play-off place.
Goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi made a welcome return to the Wigan side after a lengthy injury lay-off and produced a number of fine saves to help his side to victory.
McCann gave Uwe Rosler’s side the lead in the 10th minute when he struck a sweet shot from the edge of the area after James McClean saw his effort blocked.
As Reading tried to catch their breath, Wigan broke again with Powell firing a strong effort, which the keeper got a hand to but failed to keep out.
With the 2-0 lead in hand, Latics refused to back down and were a constant threat on the break as the home side started to get a grip of the game.
They came close on three occasions with Al Habsi having to pull off a good save at the near post to deny Pogrebnyak before Kaspars Gorkss headed wide from the resulting corner.
Jean Beausejour then produced a superb sliding block to deny Sharp as Reading started to really build the pressure. They couldn’t find a way through though as Wigan’s back-line superbly repelled their advances.
Callum McManaman could have made it three for Latics five minutes before half-time when his effort was blocked after some fine work from Powell.
Reading had the chance to hit back from the spot seven minutes after the break when McCann pulled down Chris Gunter in the box. Sharp stepped up to take the penalty but blazed his effort over the bar.
Latics then poured forward with James McArthur’s fierce effort from 20 yards sailing just wide.
Rosler had sent on Jordi Gomez and Will Keane on at half-time in place of McManaman and Powell and both had good chances to make it 3-0.
Gomez’s shot from just outside the box was saved before Keane showed great strength to shrug off a Reading defender inside the box only to see Alex McCarthy produce a stop from point blank range.
Reading nearly got themselves back into the game when Barnett nearly turned it into his own goal, only for Al Habsi to turn it behind.
From the resulting corner though, the home side did pull one back as Pogrebnyak headed in.
Latics had plenty of defending to do as Reading threw everything forward but produced few efforts on goal.
Their most notable came from Pogrebnyak who dragged a shot wide before Al Habsi pulled off the save of the game to deny the Russian again.
Latics then showed their dangerous counter-attacking ability as McArthur did well to play in Keane on the left hand-side but the striker’s effort was weak and wide.
McCann then found himself with acres of space inside the area but blazed his shot over the bar with just three minutes remaining on the clock.
The referee added six minutes on at the end of the game but Latics held out for a crucial victory to propel them back into the top half of the table.
Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Pogrebnyak, Drenthe, McAnuff, Sharp, Gorkss, Guthrie, Williams, Cummings
Subs: Federici, Kelly, Le Fondre (for Drenthe 72), McCleary (for Pearce 59), Akpan, Blackman, Obita (for Cummings 45).
Latics: Al Habsi, Perch, Rogne, Barnett, Beausejour, Watson, McArthur, McCann, McClean, Powell, McManaman
Subs: Nicholls, Gomez (for McManaman 45), Ramis, Keane (for Powell 45), Holt, Shotton, Crainey (for Beausejour 70).