AVFC started rather strongly, no doubt due to an aura of optimism not only stemming from the unexpected return of Jack Grealish, but also from a forward-thinking lineup that found room for three debutants (John McGinn, Ørjan Nyland, Axel Tuanzebe) and space for Andre Green.
Within ten minutes, McGinn had bounced a set-piece off of the head of James Chester and sent Villa into a lead.
Villa faded before half-time, and Mile Jedinak endured a hellish return to his centre-back role as a drifting backpass caught out Nyland in goal, who could only meet the charging Nick Powell with his clearance. The wayward ball spun into the net.
It was all too easy for Wigan, who found a number of unmarked chances from headers. Nyland seemed to be afforded no comfort in his new role as Villa goalkeeper and the bad quickly toxified into the worse as Wigan took a second-half lead. Calum Connolly only had to glance towards the net to ensure his side did just that.
With the second Wigan goal stemming from an infuriating refereeing decision, the atmosphere at Villa Park quickly clouded. With Jack Grealish being kicked into small pieces, it genuinely looked as there was no window for a Villa comeback.
However, they took their chance. A McGinn corner smacked the forehead of Wigan’s Dunkley to bring Villa back into the game.
With five minutes of injury time, the game seemed to die out for Villa until Birkir Bjarnason found the end of a Conor Hourihane cross to steal a victory at the very last second.
While the performance won’t excite many, it’s good to see a Villa side fight until the end. It seems a few lessons have been learnt since last season’s agony.