Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish hits stunning late winner against Wigan
Jack Grealish scored in the 87th minute to give Steve Bruce's side a hard-fought 1-0 Sky Bet Championship win over Wigan at Villa Park.
For a long period it looked like Villa were heading for their 11th draw in 20 games, but one instance of isolated brilliance by Grealish settled the game in the hosts' favour.
Wigan, struggling to move out of the bottom reaches, played with great resolution before falling at the final hurdle.
Villa were keen to make amends for their defeat in the previous game at Leeds and showed intent to assert some authority over their bottom-three opposition, but in the first half their efforts reaped little reward.
Jordan Amavi was the first to threaten with a speculative long-range, and he again powered in another goalbound effort only for the over-worked Jussi Jaaskelainen to make a smart low, diving save to his left.
Jaaskelainen was the last line of defence after skipper Stephen Warnock made a bad mistake to allow Albert Adomah to gain possession and send Jonathan Kodjia racing clear.
The striker's shot on the run was effectively blocked by Jaaskelainen when it appeared as if Villa were about to steam ahead.
Under such intense pressure, Wigan were restricted to sporadic attacks which usually involved attempts by Luke Garbutt or Yanic Wildschut.
A surprising feature of Villa's play was the failure of Grealish - until his decisive late intervention - to impose his individual skill on proceedings, which allowed the Latics to move forward with more confidence.
The hosts' loss of shape boosted Wigan, who mounted some attacks often inspired by David Perkins.
Even defender Reece Burke moved up into the attack and tried a looping shot which dipped over the Villa bar.
Villa's fortunes have picked up since the appointment of Steve Bruce as manager, but in a mundane first half they appeared to be drifting into some of their early-season indifferent form.
The persistent drizzle only compounded a miserable game, with the visitors seemingly content to contain their expensively assembled opponents.
Bruce introduced B#12million signing Ross McCormack from the bench on the hour mark in a bid to find the breakthrough.
The danger to Villa was the occasional counter-attack from Wigan, as demonstrated when Wildschut broke clear and fired over the bar.
Seven minutes from time Alan Hutton collected a yellow card and he was quickly followed into the book by Grealish.
But the 21-year-old midfielder swiftly made amends in the 87th minute when he collected a loose ball and hammered a rising shot into the top-left corner of the net, well out of the reach of the helpless Jaaskelainen.
Source : PA