Match report: Wigan Res 1-0 Villa Res
Villa's title hopes suffered a setback as Daniel Redmond's strike gave Wigan a narrow victory at the Robin Park Arena.
But there were plenty of positives for Kevin MacDonald to take from this reserve league clash, despite a second consecutive defeat.
A youthful Villa side took to the field, with a major plus point being the performances of exciting teenage attackers Callum Robinson and Jordan Graham on the flanks.
And the claret and blues had two strong penalty claims waved away in an encounter they were unlucky to lose.
Stephen Warnock skippered Villa while starting roles were handed to FA Youth Cup stars Daniel Devine and Samir Carruthers.
Chris Herd also returned to second string action a week after making his first senior start.
Neither side could find a breakthrough in a tense first-half, which the visitors just about shaded.
There was an early penalty appeal for MacDonald's men when Harry Forrester was pushed by Jordan Robinson but the referee waved play on.
Villa starlet Robinson showed tremendous footwork to cut in from the right before forcing Wigan keeper Lee Nicholls to beat away his shot.
Devine and Herd demonstrated their aerial prowess but neither could steer their headed efforts on target.
Wigan's only real chance of the first period fell to Sean Myler who should have done better when he met Callum Morris' cutback after his strike partner rounded Elliot Parish.
But it was the Latics who seized the initiative after the break, when Redmond's inswinging cross-cum-shot from a free-kick to the right of Villa's penalty area went straight in to the top corner of Parish's net.
And, just seconds after his 52nd minute deadlock- breaker, Redmond whipped in another dangerous ball from a similar position, which Jordan Robinson glanced wide.
Jordan Rugg forced Parish to block with his legs from a tight angle but, after that sustained period of Wigan pressure, Villa staged an impressive fightback.
Gary Gardner went close on a couple of occasions. Firstly, he did well to get the ball under control after a scramble in the opposition penalty area before shooting wide.
And the midfielder looked on in frustration as his deflected 25-yard shot dropped just over the cross bar.
The two wing wonders, Robinson and Graham combined for Villa's best chance. Graham displayed quick feet down the left wing before expertly picking out his team-mate in the penalty area.
Robinson took a neat first touch and went for goal, only to be foiled by a top-drawer one-handed save from Nicholls.
When the away side had another penalty shout dismissed three minutes from time, after Jordan Robinson tugged Devine's shirt, it became clear it wasn't going to be their day.
Villa's reserves are back in action against Everton at Hinckley United FC on Monday night [ko - 7pm].
WIGAN: Nicholls, Buxton, Mustoe, Robinson, Golobart, Lambert, Myler, Morris, Rugg, Redmond, Holt. Subs: Welsby, Breeze (for Myler, HT), Serrano, Watson (for Morris, 73), Girvan (for Lambert, 90).
VILLA: Parish, Herd, Berry, Devine, Deeney, Robinson, Gardner, Warnock, Graham, Carruthers, Forrester. Subs: Taylor (for Carruthers), Coton, Williams, Burke (for Graham, 66), Johnson (for Robinson, 66).