Derby County’s 12 game unbeaten run came to an end as Wigan Athletic fought from one goal down to beat Steve McClaren’s side 2-1 at the iPro Stadium.
John Eustace gave the Rams the lead in first half injury time after Jack Butland had, only a minute later, saved James Tavernier’s penalty.
Uwe Rosler introduced James McClean on the hour mark and his introduction had the desired effect for the visitors as he scored two goals to give Wigan their first win since the end of August.
As McClaren continues to try and keep his squad fresh, the Head Coach made three changes ahead of kick-off as Craig Bryson, Zak Whitbread and Eustace returned to the starting line-up.
The fresh changes did not give the Rams the cutting edge, though, as Wigan controlled large proportions of the game.
Inside a packed and vibrant iPro Stadium, Wigan made a bright start to the contest as they pegged the Rams inside their own half.
Emyr Huws lashed an effort down the throat of Jack Butland, before the on loan ‘keeper was alert to claim a threatening cross from the left inside the opening three minutes of the contest.
With 18 minutes on the clock, the persistence of Johnny Russell was nearly repaid as the Scottish forward hustled and harried the Latics’ back line and as the ball was worked back to Scott Carson and the ‘keeper lashed the ball against Russell and out for a goal kick.
After Callum McManaman was adjudged to have gone down too easily in the penalty area on 20 minutes, the visitors once again grasped control of the contest.
Derby’s stubborn defence, though, was keeping them at arms length and only Adam Forshaw’s long-range drive over the bar was the only chance they had to show for their bright start.
Butland was once again called into action, as he stood up tall to keep out McManaman’s low drive after cutting inside from the left, but as the clock ticked down, Derby came within inches of making the break through.
Jordon Ibe started the move on the left and waltzing inside, the winger pushed the ball on to the left foot of Russell’s whose first time effort curled just wide of Carson’s far post.
Ibe tried his luck with five minutes remaining as he cut inside and rifled an effort into the bottom left corner, before Derby were dealt a harsh blow on the cusp of injury time, or so they thought.
Referee, Robert Madley, pointed to the penalty spot after a Derby player was adjudged to have handled in the area and Butland came to the rescue to turn away James Tavernier’s low effort for a corner. Que bedlam.
The iPro Stadium erupted and Derby sprang to life to push Wigan further and further back into their own half. Their harrying paid off and Derby won a corner as the encounter entered injury time.
In came the corner from Russell and John Eustace rose highest to turn his header into the goal to give the Rams the half time lead right with seconds remaining. Que bedlam for the second time in the space of two minutes.
Steve McClaren made two changes at half time to inject more energy and presence into his midfield. One of them, Simon Dawkins, nearly doubled Derby’s lead within a minute of the restart as he lashed an effort narrowly wide of Carson’s far post.
The other, Jeff Hendrick, tried his luck from a similar position nine minutes later after good work by Dawkins, but this time, Carson got down well to turn the effort away.
Hendrick tried his luck again from just outside the area as the game approached the hour mark, but his low drive flew just wide of Carson’s post and Craig Bryson had a chance deflected for a corner as the Rams continued to create the better openings.
Their dominance was to come to nothing, though, as Wigan equalised to dash Derby’s hopes of breaking a 102-year-old club record.
Tavernier worked himself into space on the right and after stepping inside the challenge of Zak Whitbread, delivered a low cross that was turned into the back of the net by substitute James McClean.
With 15 minutes remaining, the winger headed narrowly over from Figueroa’s free kick from the left as the visitors pushed for a winner. Tavernier tried his luck as Wigan flooded forward again, but the full back saw his effort fly just wide of Butland’s post.
With seven minutes remaining, Wigan got the goal their pressure warranted as Derby failed to deal with a driving run from Forshaw and as the ball spilled into the path of McClean, the winger knocked in from six yards to give the visitors the lead.
With one minute remaining, Chris Martin was given the chance to steal a point for the Rams with a free kick on the edge of the area, but as the striker curled an effort narrowly wide, Derby’s 12 game unbeaten run come to an abrupt and shuddering end.
Derby County: Butland; Christie, Keogh, Whitbread, Forsyth; Eustace (Best, 80), Hughes (Hendrick, 45), Bryson; Ibe (Dawkins, 45), Russell, Martin
Substitutes not used: Roos, Buxton, Calero, Mascarell
Wigan Athletic: Carson, Tavernier, Huws (Maloney, 70), McManaman (McClean, 61), Cowie, Espinoza, Barnett, Forshaw, Kiernan, Figueroa, Fortune
Substitutes not used: Al Habsi, Riera, Waghorn, Kvist, Delort
Attendance: 28, 824