Curtis Nelson’s first-half header proved to be the only goal as Derby ran out worthy winners at Wigan in League One.
Young England goalkeeper Sam Tickle had already made a stunning save to deny James Collins when the Rams scored what proved to be the winner in the 19th minute.
Stephen Humphrys gave the ball away inside the Wigan box as he tried to clear his lines, and Tom Barkhuizen’s cross was nodded home by the unmarked Nelson.
Derby thought they had doubled their advantage shortly after when Craig Forsyth’s shot flew into the roof of the net, only for the official to award a free-kick for a foul on Baba Adeeko.
Tickle made another couple of saves either side of the break to deny Collins and Barkhuizen, who also fired into the side-netting.
Wigan’s only response was a volley from Humphrys that was met at point-blank range by Joe Wildsmith.
Not even a cameo off the bench from Callum McManaman could tip the balance back Wigan’s way, with the much-travelled forward firing into the side-netting from a tight angle.