Wigan Athletic 3 Aston Villa 0

Gary Roberts
Gary Roberts

Goals from Gary Roberts, Michael Jacobs - on his return from a three-month lay-off - and Joe Garner gave Wigan Athletic a well-deserved 3-0 victory over Aston Villa at the DW Stadium.

Latics had gone into the game having won only one of their last 14 matches, and having lost their last three at home without scoring.

But they returned to form in emphatic fashion with three points that will hopefully kickstart their campaign.

Roberts opened the scoring four minutes before half-time after being teed up by a jaw-dropping piece of skill from Anthony Pilkington, making his debut after signing from Premier League Cardiff City.

Jacobs came off the bench on the hour mark and nodded home number two, off a wonderful cross by Lee Evans, with 11 minutes remaining.

And Garner made it three from the penalty spot with seven minutes remaining, after Josh Windass had been fouled in the area by Glenn Whelan.

If anything, the winning margin could and should have been even more emphatic, with Villa failing to force Jamie Jones - in for Christian Walton, making his first league start of the season - into a single save.

Latics could and perhaps should have been ahead inside three minutes, with a cross from Reece James finding Windass, who could only fire straight at Lovre Kalinic in the Villa goal.

And the ‘destructive pattern’ of written weeks - a phrase coined by Paul Cook - almost repeated itself with Villa somehow squandering a gilt-edged opportunity to punish Latics for their profligacy.

Latics only had themselves to blame for the opening, with Jones rolling the ball out to Cedric Kipre, who had turned his back on his goalkeeper at the worst possible moment.

In stepped Yannick Bolasie, who fed Tammy Abraham with a first-time pass.

But the in-form striker - with 12 goals in his last 10 matches - swung his foot at the ball and sent it wide of the goal, much to Jones’ relief.

That let-off seemed to invigorate Latics, who seized control of the game, with Kipre heading just wide from a Windass corner.

And although it took 41 minutes to arrive, the opening goal was no more than Latics deserved.

A wonderful cross from Kal Naismith saw Garner denied by a fine save from Kalinic.

But Pilkington won back possession on the right, and sent Villa left-back Neil Taylor for a hot-dog with a sensational show of footwork before supplying Roberts, who smashed the ball home at the near post.

The joy, and relief, inside the DW was tangible, with Latics having picked up only one point all season - a divisional low - after falling behind.

It was almost 2-0 shortly after the restart when Windass again went close, only to see his shot miss the far post by inches.

Jacobs and Nathan Byrne replaced Pilkington and Roberts as the Latics boss attempted to inject more energy.

Villa manager Dean Smith made a triple change to try and cajole his men into life, but it didn’t make much difference.

If anything Latics were coming on even stronger, and two goals inside the final 11 minutes gave the scoreline a far more accurate look.

First, Jacobs produced a lovely diving header at the far post to do justice to a marvellous cross-field delivery from Evans.

Then, four minutes later, Windass won a penalty from Whelan, which Garner converted despite Kalinic getting a strong hand to it, diving to his right.