Ten man Rochdale played with fight, determination and spirit, but despite a tremendous performance at the DW Stadium, Conor McAleny’s 67th minute goal was the difference between the two sides.
Dale had been reduced to ten men shortly after the half hour mark when Ian Henderson received a straight red card.
Manager Keith Hill made one change to the side that inflicted a 4-1 defeat on Southend United on Good Friday, as Henderson returned from suspension to replace Grant Holt in the starting eleven.
Rochdale’s second half performance against the Shrimpers had been magnificent and they started Monday's game with the same type of endeavour and positivity.
Dale applied plenty of pressure during the opening exchanges but it was the home side who had the first chance of the game on four minutes. Stephen Warnock’s low ball into the area was hit over the bar by Ryan Colclough.
Nine minutes later and Yanic Wildschut had a clear cut opportunity which he squandered. After getting through on goal, he should have struck his effort first time, but after spending too much time on the ball, Ashley Eastham got back to put in an important block.
From the corner, which was initially defended out of the area, Sam Morsy rattled an effort from distance at goal, forcing Josh Lillis into a save. The ‘keeper parried it away.
In the 22nd minute, Callum Camps sent a speculative effort wide of the target from 25-yards.
Two minutes later and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing showed quick feet as he weaved his way through on goal before having an effort blocked on the edge of the area.
Shortly after the half hour mark Rochdale were reduced to ten men as Henderson received a straight red card. Pearce had scythed down the forward with a rash challenge, for which he went in the book, but Hendo was sent off for afters.
The home side looked to take advantage of their extra man and in the 39th minute Eastham was there with a tremendous block to deny Colclough.
On the stroke of half time Wigan had their best chance of the game so far as David Perkins delivered a low ball across the face of goal from the left. It was a dangerous ball but the in-coming Will Grigg was unable to make a connection.
HT: WIGAN ATHLETIC 0-0 ROCHDALE
Wigan came out for the second half and immediately showed their attacking intent with an early ball into the area which was cleared away by Niall Canavan.
Dale were forced to defend for large spells and did so resolutely. And, Lillis, when called into action did so superbly. Shortly before the hour mark he denied Max Power at his post after the forward had worked his way through one on one with the goalkeeper.
Soon after, Peter Vincenti replaced Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, before Donal McDermott made way for Holt, who made his return to the DW Stadium.
In the 64th minutes Power tested Lillis from distance, but despite his 25-yard effort taking a horrible bounce, Lillis did exceptionally well to get down and collect.
Lillis saved well again, as he kept out substitute Haris Vuckic, who struck from the edge of the area.
Wigan opened the scoring a minute later. Canavan blocked an initial effort, before Lillis pulled off a point blank save. The Latics then hit the bar before finding the back of the net with a scruffy shot in an action packed 20 seconds - Conor McAleny with the goal for the home side in the 67th minute.
Joe Bunney joined the action in the 71st minute and was immediately involved as he was pulled back inside the area. There were strong appeals for a penalty but instead a corner was awarded.
From the resulting corner Holt headed narrowly over the bar.
In the 84th minute Lillis pulled off another tremendous save to keep out McAleny who beat the offside trap.
A couple of minutes later, and Vincenti who stung the fingers of Southend United goalkeeper Dan Bentley with a ferocious strike on Friday, rattled a powerful effort from distance at goal. This time his effort was wide of the target.
A determined Dale continued in search of the equaliser but the Latics defended resolutely.
In stoppage time, Canavan headed a Rose corner back across goal where it was hooked away a couple of yards from the goal line. Holt latched onto the follow up but had his shot blocked by the back of a Latics defender.
FT: Wigan Athletic 1-0 Rochdale