Wigan Athletic made it a great start to 2014 when they deservedly took all three points at Pride Park. Jean Beausejour scored his first goal of the season for the Latics with a spectacular drive and Derby were unable to capitalise on some late chances to equalise.
Latics were the dominant outfit in the first period with Nick Powell, Emmerson Boyce and James McArthur all going close to the target.
Following Beausejour’s goal in the 69th minute both Simon Dawkins and Chris Martin wasted opportunities for the Rams in a frantic final fifteen minutes.
Wigan now move up to 11th in the table and only three points off the play-offs and Derby’s unbeaten run of nine games comes to an end as they slip to fourth place.
Wigan made two changes from Sunday’s 0-0 draw against Burnley at the DW Stadium, with Beausejour and Roger Espinoza replacing Stephen Crainey and Jordi Gomez in the starting line up.
Latics adopted a more direct approach than in recent games, forgoing their normal passing style with greater use of the long ball. It was proving an effective tactic as they created several good goal scoring opportunities.
Powell fired wide from 15 yards and Boyce headed off-target before McArthur sent a dipping effort just over the crossbar.
Powell then appeared to be fouled in the area on 34 minutes but referee David Webb waved away appeals and booked the Wigan player for simulation.
Beausejour fired into the side-netting and Espinoza volleyed wide as the first half ended without a goal but with Wigan in the ascendancy.
The opening period of the second half was a scrappy affair as neither side could gain control of possession and create a significant opportunity.
However in the 69th minute McManaman replaced Espinoza and with the winger’s first touch he set up Beausejour who fired an unstoppable shot past Lee Grant from 18 yards.
Derby pressed for an equaliser and Dawkins should have done better when he received a pass from substitute Conor Sammon but his shot deflected wide.
Will Hughes had a shot parried by Ali Al Habsi and Sammon was unable to capitalise on the rebound. But with five minutes remaining the Rams should have equalised when Martin reached Andre Wisdom’s cross, but he somehow contrived to miss the target.
Derby’s unbeaten nine game run under Steve McClaren comes to an end, but Uwe Rösler’s five game unbeaten run continues apace.
Rösler’s impact since taking over at the DW Stadium in early December has been dramatic. It is no coincidence that the former Brentford manager has produced a significant change in fortune for the Latics.
Tactics, organisation, team selections and team spirit have all improved since the German took the reins. With some prudent additions in the transfer window the team will soon be challenging near the top of the table.