Wigan 2 Derby 0
Derby boss Paul Jewell's return to Wigan culminated in an unwanted club record as the Rams took another stride towards a swift return to the Coca-Cola Championship.
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Second-half goals from Paul Scharner and Antonio Valencia gave the Latics a richly-deserved win, extending the visitors' ignominious winless streak in the league to an astonishing 21 matches.
The fact Derby and Jewell did not suffer further humiliation at his old JJB Stadium stamping ground, was due to a combination of poor finishing, fine defending and questionable officiating.
While Derby have one foot in the Championship, the result lifts Wigan up to 14th and four points clear of the relegation zone.
But after the success Jewell enjoyed with Wigan during his six years in charge, there was little fanfare on his comeback.
A large crowd of Latics fans gathered outside the stadium entrance when the Derby bus pulled up outside, but barely a word - never mind a cheer - was raised when Jewell stepped off and walked inside.
After two promotions and a Carling Cup final appearance, Jewell could have reasonably expected a warm welcome once he exited the tunnel and made his way into the dug-out prior to kick-off.
But again, he could have been any other manager on any other day as the home faithful barely acknowledged their former hero.
Jewell maintains he did the right thing in quitting 24 hours after saving the Latics from relegation on the final day of last season, that he had taken them as far as he could.
The 43-year-old insisted he needed a fresh challenge, and there can be no doubt that in pitching up at doomed Derby in November, he has taken on a mammoth task.
The Rams are all but down, and already the talk is with regard to next season's plans and a promotion push once they return to the Championship.
These days Derby are certainly playing like a Championship club as Wigan started just three places above them, but it might as well have been three divisions such was the gulf.
Jewell did not help matters by playing with a lone striker in the often isolated Kenny Miller who at times was 50 yards behind his midfield such was their depth as they sat in front of the defence.
It allowed Wigan to dominate the first half after an early sixth-minute scare when Hossam Ghaly teed up Stephen Pearson, only for the midfielder to fire tamely at Chris Kirkland.
After that it was all the Latics, with their first clear chance arriving in the 14th minute when Kevin Kilbane directed a Mario Melchiot cross directly at Roy Carroll from seven yards.
Then 11 minutes later Melchiot was denied the opener by a linesman as his back-heel from five yards in latching on to a hooked effort from Emile Heskey was cleared by Giles Barnes.
Replays appeared to show the whole of the ball had crossed the line prior to Barnes' intervention, but the visitors escaped.
As was the case at frequent intervals as their defending was backs-to-the-wall stuff at times, such as when Dean Leacock hooked clear a Valencia cross with Kilbane and Michael Brown looming to tap home.
Later in the half another poor decision potentially cost Wigan as Marlon King was a yard onside in seizing on a through ball from Heskey, but the linesman who failed to spot the earlier 'goal' raised his flag.
When Heskey sidefooted a low Brown cross tamely at Carroll just before the interval, the frustrated supporters expressed their unhappiness that another chance had gone begging.
But their unrest was abated on the hour, three minutes after Jewell switched from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 with his side looking more comfortable at the start of the second period than at any stage in the opening 45 minutes.
Carroll initially made a superb double save to deny Heskey, first blocking a downward header and then tipping away the rebound from a right-foot half-volley.
Unfortunately for the Northern Ireland international, the ball was directed into Scharner's path, allowing the centre-back to hook home his fifth goal of the season from three yards into an empty net.
It was then all one-way traffic again after that, with the Latics adding a second in the 84th minute as Valencia ended a 15-month wait for only his second goal for the club.
After being picked out by a raking pass from Wilson Palacios, the left-winger turned inside Jay McEveley before rifling an eight-yard left-foot drive into the roof of the net.
Wigan Kirkland, Melchiot, Boyce, Scharner, Edman (Koumas 90), Valencia, Brown, Palacios, Kilbane, Heskey (Bent 90), King (Sibierski 85).
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Bramble.
Goals: Scharner 60, Valencia 84.
Derby Carroll, Leacock (Todd 46), Stubbs, Moore, McEveley, Fagan, Ghaly (Sterjovski 62), Savage, Pearson (Villa 57),Barnes, Miller.
Subs Not Used: Price, Lewis.
Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).