A third home defeat on the trot for Wigan coupled with a first half performance which was arguably the worse forty five minutes served up at the DW for many a year was enough to gift Derby the three points.
Coyle opted once again to rotate his squad with starts for Watson and debutant Will Keane and a welcome return from eleven months out for Ivan Ramis. The big Spaniard’s first notable action came in the second minute when he and Powell attempted to close down Dawkins, Powell being booked for the challenge with Ramis coming off the worse and being forced to watch the resultant free kick from the touchline.
His watching brief must have been as painful as the Latics fans as the resultant free kick from Bryson beat both the wall and the keeper and Wigan were a goal down, sending the large travelling away support into paroxysms of delight.
Wigan looked like a team low on confidence in contrast to a Derby side whose slick passing and industrious running off the ball was in sharp contrast to the aimless long balls from their hosts and their endeavours were well rewarded when after another ten minutes when Dawkins was allowed too much space and his long range powerful shot beat Nicholls and Derby were cruising.
With the fans restless the team seemed to react to this anxiety, with players berating each other for misplaced passes and no Wigan player seeming to have the ability to lead the fight back.
Things went from bad to worse on the half hour mark when McClean fouled Martin as he brought the ball into the area, the referee having no hesitation in awarded the spot kick which was converted with ease by the Derby striker.
Wigan were three down in thirty minutes and up to this stage hadn’t produced any cohesive football at all and the chants of Coyle out could clearly be heard in the East Stand but still Wigan offered nothing until on the stroke of half time, Crainey fired a powerful free kick agaisnt the cross bar with Grant well bested. This was quickly followed by the half team whistle and Wigan trooped off to a crescendo of boos from a very dissatisfied and disgruntled home support.
Owen Coyle unsurprisingly opted to make substitutions at half time replacing the anonymous Keane whose baptism of fire was mercifully short and Watson the two to be replaced by fan favourite Espinoza and Holt.
The second half was a far more positive experience for the Wigan faithful with the aforementioned Espinoza constantly driving the side forwards ably supported by Powell and the latter brought Wigan back into the game with a powerful header following good work from captain Boyce. This gave Wigan a fillip and enthused the home support and Powell and Holt both saw efforts well saved by Grant and the woodwork once again not for the first time this afternoon thwarted Wigan following a miscued clearance.
Derby were content to try and soak up the Wigan pressure but for all Wigan’s efforts to paper over the cracks, the away side were full value for the three points with embattled manager Owen Coyle now left with the difficult task of lifting his team for Wednesday’s away trip at Leeds.
First Half…………………… a collective big fat zero
Withdrawn at half time, Keane and Watson
Nicholls….5 very little to do.
Boyce….6, pushed forwards.
Barnett….6, a comfortable second half
Ramis…..5.5., looked rusty
Crainey……7, his best 45 mins in a Wigan shirt
McManaman….6, created a few half chances, withdrawn.
McArthur…..6, a competent second half performance.
Espinoza….8, a dynamic second half performance.
McClean…..7, looked dangerous.
Powell……7, looked sharp
Holt….7, unlucky not to score
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