A flash of brilliance from Mason Bennett revived Derby’s play-off hopes as they came from behind to beat Wigan 2-1 at Pride Park.
The visitors had led through Gavin Massey’s first half breakaway goal but Bennett’s acrobatic finish turned the game, with Scott Malone providing the finish that ended a run of four defeats.
Malone had provided the cross which set up Bennett as the left back went from villain to hero after his mistake led to Wigan’s goal.
He also cleared a Nick Powell header off the line and Wigan could count themselves unlucky to see their five match unbeaten run come to an end.
After the 4-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Saturday, it was no surprise Derby made six changes for a game that saw skipper Richard Keogh make his 600th career club appearance.
Both teams had early openings, Wigan twice getting caught on the break from corners with Derby unable to take advantage although Harry Wilson fired over from just inside the area.
When Derby won a corner in the ninth minute, Bradley Johnson arrived late at the back post but his header was pushed out by Jamie Jones and Wigan scrambled the ball clear.
There was a scare for Derby when Wigan broke down the left and Malone was close to turning a cross into his own net but generally it was the home side asking the questions until the visitors landed a sucker punch in the 25th minute.
Malone lost the ball just outside the Wigan area and Michael Jacobs raced away to play in Massey who slide the ball through Scott Carson’s legs.
Derby could have conceded again four minutes later when Nathan Byrne’s superb cross from the right gave Leon Clarke a free header at the back post which he put wide.
Martyn Waghorn had a header easily saved in the 44th minute but Derby had to improve in the second half and it was no surprise when they made a double substitution in the 57th minute which immediately paid off.
Malone’s cross in the 62nd minute was behind Bennett but he span and hooked a shot from 12 yards over Jones and inside his left post.
Jacobs almost restored Wigan’s lead with a cross shot that fizzed just wide and after Duane Holmes was denied by Jones, Malone rescued Derby by clearing Nick Powell’s header off the line.
It was a big moment because Derby went ahead in the 78th minute when Malone showed quick reactions to turn in a Jayden Bogle shot that looked to be going wide.
Waghorn struck a post and although Wigan pressed hard, Derby’s defence held firm as they moved level on points with sixth place Bristol City.