Unbeaten record at Villa Park comes to an end for Latics
ASTON VILLA 2
WIGAN ATHLETIC 0
Report by Iain McMullen
Latics fell to a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa this afternoon at a sun-drenched Villa Park.
The hosts came into the game on the back of a six match unbeaten run, with coach Alex McLeish going some way to endearing himself to the home fans following his dramatic summer switch from cross-town rivals, Birmingham City.
In contrast Roberto Martinez was hoping his team could end a miserable run of results which has seen them lose three Barclays Premier League games in succession.
The omens were good for Latics however, as they were unbeaten in all six Barclays Premier League encounters to be played at the midlands club since promotion in 2005.
There were two changes to the side that lost to Tottenham Hotspur last week, Ronnie Stam and fit-again Emmerson Boyce coming into replace Jordi Gomez and the suspended Steve Gohouri, while Latics' old-boy Charles N'Zogbia could only make the bench for the home side.
It was an assured start from Martinez's men as they moved the ball around the pitch with intent, forcing some early pressure and three corners in quick succession.
The first opportunity fell to the home side, with Gabi Agbonlahor firing a Darren Bent header just over the bar in the ninth minute.
The game settled into a tempo that suited both sides, no doubt conscious of fatigue as temperatures soared, with Ben Watson and James McCarthy both growing in confidence.
The pace of the Villa attack was also a constant danger, the lightening-quick Agbonlahor looking particularly threatening.
Mid-way through the half, Ali Al Habsi produced a fantastic save to deny Darren Bent who had created space for himself in the box, and Villa began to grow in confidence.
The goal came in the 35th minute when Agbonlahor raced onto a long through ball before managing to get the better of Gary Caldwell in the penalty area.
The English international thundered an unstoppable shot past Al Habsi, leaving the keeper with no chance.
Latics battled to get back into the game and minutes before the break, Franco Di Santo went close when he fizzed a shot just wide of the Shay Given's goal.
Al Habsi proved in imperious form again in the second half, when his 52nd minute finger-tip save magnificently denied Barry Bannan form 35 yards out.
The home side were now enjoying more possession and looking dangerous.
Villa finally doubled their lead in the 60th minute when Bent got on the end of an Agbonlahor cross to calmly slot past Al Habsi, sending the home crowd into raptures.
The introduction of Shaun Maloney soon after, added some fresh legs for Martinez and the Scotland international soon proved a threat after his excellent run finished with Di Santo forcing Given into a smart save at the near post.
The visitors kept pushing forward but there was no way back, leaving the game to finish in disappointing defeat for Roberto Martinez's men.
Aston Villa:Given, Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Bannan, Petrov, Delph, Ireland (Heskey, 57),Agbonlahor (Weimann, 86), Bent (N'Zogbia)
Unused Subs:Guzan, Clark, Herd, Albrighton
Wigan Athletic:Al Habsi, McCarthy (Sammon, 84), Caldwell, Watson, Di Santo, Moses, Boyce, Diame (Maloney, 70), van Aanholt, Stam (McArthur, 55), Figueroa
Unused Subs: Kirkland, Lopez, Jones, Gomez