Wigan 0-1 Derby: Bradley Johnson heads Rams to victory
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 03/12/16 9:21pm
Bradley Johnson's early header was all in-form Derby needed to edge a tight Sky Bet Championship encounter 1-0 against Wigan at the DW Stadium.
Wigan had started the brighter with Yanic Wildschut, outstanding in Monday night's win at Huddersfield, looking very dangerous in the lone striking role.
But it was the visitors who took the lead with their first attack on the 15-minute mark. Thomas Ince floated in a lovely free-kick from the left-hand side and Johnson rose highest to nod home over the exposed Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Derby were almost gifted a second goal on 20 minutes when Luke Garbutt's poor backpass was seized upon by Johnny Russell. The midfielder rounded Jaaskelainen but could only roll his shot against the near post from a tight angle.
Wigan started the second half well, with Derby having to scramble the ball away after a melee in their penalty area. The home side then sent on Will Grigg for the last half-hour, for Jordi Gomez, and the remainder of the game was virtually non-stop Wigan possession and pressure.
Garbutt almost fluked an equaliser when an over-hit cross very nearly embarrassed Carson on his return to the DW.
Wigan came even closer midway through the second period, when Stephen Warnock's cross was met powerfully by the head of Power, only for the ball to smack the crossbar and away to safety.
As the home side pushed more and more men forward - including substitutes Adam Le Fondre and Kaiyne Woolery, then were leaving themselves more and more open to the threat of a Derby counter. But the visitors could not find a killer second goal, which always left the door open for Wigan - although they once again lacked a cutting edge.
Wigan manager Warren Joyce:
"We're obviously disappointed to lose the game. I thought in the first half we had a lot of possession without a lot of purpose in our play. We could have been a bit braver, get on the half-turn and get in between the lines which was something we'd worked on during the week.
"In saying that, I don't think they caused us a lot of problems. And it's such a cheap goal, if you follow it all the way back. We lost possession ourselves on the halfway line, which leads to the free-kick, and a really soft, basic error means we're 1-0 down.
Derby manager Steve McClaren:
"I think we deserved it - we just made hard work of it. We had a great start and for some reason we kind of took our foot off the pedal when we needed to go up. We knew this would be a difficult place to come and, when we didn't manage to get the second goal, the last 10-15 minutes were always going to be a bit nervy.
"We defended for our lives, we got in some good blocks and headers and that's got us the result."