A three-goal salvo from striker Clayton Donaldson earned Blues a deserved victory against the Latics at St. Andrew’s on Saturday afternoon.
The Blues frontman netted twice in the first-half and once in the second, with James McClean scoring a consolation for the visitors.
Gary Rowett made ten changes to the side that overcame Blyth Spartans in the FA Cup last weekend, with centre-half Michael Morrison the only player to keep his place for both games. For Wigan there was a debut appearance for former Blues defender Liam Ridgewell.
Blues made the best possible start as they found themselves a goal to the good after just 68 seconds.
The ball found David Cotterill just inside the Wigan half. He ran on with it before beating a player and then sweeping in a peach of a cross to the far post where Donaldson found a yard of space and headed home past Scott Carson.
Donaldson should have doubled his own and his side’s tally after ten minutes when he found himself free with the just the keeper to beat, but his low shot went just wide of the far post.
But the Blues frontman soon forgot that miss as he netted his second just four minutes later. Andy Shinnie’s shot hit the post and Donaldson was quickest to react as he blasted the ball home from close range.
Blues had a decent shout for a penalty when Shinnie looked to have been impeded in the area, but referee Mick Russell waved away the appeals.
Blues were continuing to dominate their visitors and Morrison was just a whisker away from getting his head to Paul Caddis’ cross, and had he done so he would have surely scored.
Just before the half-hour mark Donaldson went desperately close to claiming his hat-trick goal as he tried his luck with a low shot from an acute angle. But he was denied by Ridgewell who slid in and cleared the ball off the line and behind for a corner.
Malky Mackay made his first change of the afternoon after just 30 minutes when he sent on Ben Watson for Don Cowie
Against the run of play Wigan were back in the contest after 36 minutes when James McClean fired home a brilliant effort from distance. The Latics man cut in from the right and struck a powerful left-footed effort which evaded Darren Randolph and went in off the far post.
The game was becoming a real contest now with both teams looking dangerous on the counter attack.
Dimmy Gray should have scored after 44 minutes when he surged past the Wigan defence, but with just Carson to beat he fired it straight at the Latics stopper.
Half-time: Blues 2 Wigan 1
Wigan made one change at the break with Martyn Waghorn coming on for Ridgewell.
The change combined with the half-time talk from their manager seemed to inspire them and they started really well.
But it was Shinnie that fashioned the next opportunity of the match when he tried his luck from 30 yards but was just wide.
Randolph then produced a superb low diving save to push McClean’s goalbound shot away.
St. Andrew’s erupted after 64 minutes as Donaldson made it 3-1 to the hosts with his hat-trick goal. Gray played his part with a headed assist as Donaldson fired home from close-range.
That third goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Wigan and it was Blues who looked the more likely side to score again.
Cotterill’s cross found Donaldson, but under pressure, the hat-trick hero headed over from close-range.
With the clock running down Blues were generally happy to play keep-ball and they held on for a fully deserved victory.