Goals from Will Grigg and Yanic Wildschut gave Wigan Athletic a deserved passage into round four of the FA Cup after a convincing win over Nottingham Forest at the DW Stadium.
Grigg’s goal on the stroke of half-time, from skipper Stephen Warnock’s cross, was Wigan’s first in the competition for 1,001 days - going back all the way to Jordi Gomez’s penalty in the 2014 semi-final against Arsenal at Wembley.
Wildschut doubled the advantage just before the hour mark, again after good interplay with Warnock, and the only frustration was the fact Latics didn’t add further goals to underline their undoubted dominance.
With Sam Morsy - recalled from a season-long loan at Barnsley - outstanding in the midfield, Latics looked head and shoulders above their opponents for the vast majority of an entertaining encounter.
Forest almost gave themselves a lifeline right at the death, when substitute Lica was tripped inside the Latics box by a stretching Jordi Gomez.
But goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard - signed just before kick-off on loan from Stoke - pulled off a fine penalty save to preserve his clean sheet - and secure Wigan’s first home win since September 27.
While the victory sadly doesn’t improve Wigan’s precarious league position, it will hopefully boost confidence levels inside - and outside - the dressing room.
Right from the off, Latics took the game to their opponents, who were hoping to arrest a disappointing run of results of their own.
After Forest had seen a goal from Nicolao Dumitru-Cardoso rightly chalked off for offside, Latics won a dangerous free-kick on the edge of the box when Michael Jacobs was tripped by Jack Hobbs.
Nick Powell lined it up, but unfortunately his aim was just off and the ball zipped inches past the far post.
And that was it as far as Powell’s involvement went, the ex-Manchester United man limping off with a recurrence of the hamstring problem that has dogged his season.
He was replaced by Gomez, who was quickly into the game, teaming up with Wildschut and Morsy to set-up Jacobs, who fired just wide.
Gomez was then given too much time and space on the edge of the area, and Forest were lucky the shot ended up in the empty South Stand rather than the roof of the net.
Morsy fired wide on the 15-minute mark after good work from Wildschut, and the midfielder tried his luck again midway through the half, only to see his effort deflect off Lichaj for a corner.
Grigg almost got on the end of a Jacobs cross on the half-hour mark, before Gomez stabbed inches over the bar, and the whole team deserved the impromptu round of applause from the home fans who clearly appreciated what they were seeing
The Northern Ireland striker was almost in again off a Jacobs pass, only for the last defender to get a touch on the ball before he could shoot.
But the respite was only temporary, as Grigg did open the scoring in the second added minute at the end of the first half, prodding home from close range after great work down the left from Warnock.
And Grigg picked up where he’d left off within seconds of the restart, this time seeing his shot drifting just wide of the mark with the goalkeeper struggling to get there.
It was also a lively start to the second half from Jacobs, who fired past the post before seeing another effort deflect wide for a corner.
It looked like a second goal was only a matter of time, and it eventually arrived just before the hour mark, when Wildschut took a return pass from Warnock and drilled a deadly effort past Henderson.
Wildschut gave way to Adam Le Fondre for the final quarter to give the striker a run-out, although Forest were almost gifted a way back in with nine minutes to go.
Gomez clearly tripped Lica in the box, but skipper Lichaj’s penalty was brilliantly kept out by Haugaard on his debut.
Jordan Flores replaced Grigg, who received a standing ovation for his efforts, with two minutes to go.
And the new man almost made it three with the very last kick, only to see his shot flash past the woodwork with the goalkeeper beaten.