Wolves ended a run of eight games without victory with a crucial win over fellow strugglers Wigan.
It was the home side who took the lead in the 31st minute when Jamie O'Hara slotted home a Kevin Doyle cross.
But Ben Watson levelled for Wigan, hammering in a rebound after Wayne Hennessey saved his initial penalty, awarded for a block on Emmerson Boyce.
David Edwards restored Wolves' lead from close range and Stephen Ward's finish sealed the win.
The victory is a massive boost for Wolves, lifting them away from the relegation zone and up to 13th with 11 points from the same number of games.
But Wigan remain bottom of the table and deep in trouble having set a new club record of eight straight defeats in the Premier League. No other side in the competition's history has gone on such a run and avoided relegation.
Despite the woeful form of both these sides heading into the game, only the latter made one unenforced change - Franco Di Santo replacing Albert Crusat.
You suspect both teams have greater potential than they have shown so far but it is clear to see why they have struggled.
This was a game marred by little respect for possession, nervous, hesitant defending and wastefulness in the final third.
Having received criticism from what he called " mindless idiots " among the Wolves support recently, manager Mick McCarthy had called on his players to get the Molineux faithful on their side from the off.
They did their best to deliver, twice capitalising on hesitancy in the Wigan defence to fashion decent chances.
DID YOU KNOW?
Prior to this match, Wolves had conceded at least two goals in each of their last 7 PL matches (1 draw, 6 defeats). This represents the longest such streak in Premier League history
However, David Edwards's 20-yard strike was saved by Ali Al-Habsi and then, minutes later, Stephen Hunt spurned a good opportunity after skipping past a challenge from the Latics keeper that could have resulted in a penalty had the winger gone to ground instead.
Such wastefulness was nothing in comparison to that practised by Wigan striker Hugo Rodallega at the other end.
The Colombian first headed a Victor Moses cross horribly wide - but was spared his blushes somewhat by an assistant referee's flag - before then firing straight at Hennessey from inside the box after Karl Henry had been dispossessed in midfield.
Rodallega bested both of those on the half-hour though when he was found in the box by a superb long-range floated pass from Di Santo but side-footed wide of goal with just the keeper to beat.
The miss would only prove more costly just 35 seconds later as Wolves swept down the other end and Doyle crossed for O'Hara to slot home the opener.
However, Wolves had not suggested a clean-sheet was in the offing - and so it proved 10 minutes later when Boyce's run was halted by the shoulder of Hunt in the box for a penalty.
Watson's initial effort was saved by Hennessey but the rebound fell kindly to the midfielder to hammer into the largely unguarded net.
If Wigan just shaded the first half, the second 45 minutes belonged to Wolves.
In the 55th minute, they reclaimed the lead when Edwards was on hand to finish after Al-Habsi had shown great athleticism to save efforts from both Hunt and O'Hara.
Shortly after, the home side took complete control as Ward finished on the follow-up after Al-Habsi saved O'Hara's initial shot.
Wigan's efforts to get back into the game summed up their afternoon - and arguably their season - as Steve Gohouri was denied by Hennessey with a header from a corner before Mohamed Diame fired horribly wide from 12 yards.
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy:
"It all looks different with one win and we knew that would be the case.
"But it was much needed. We can't keep going on saying we did alright. You've got to win a game and today was the one we needed to win against Wigan.
"What pleased me most was the reaction after taking the lead and then conceding a penalty.
"It was the great togetherness of the place. The crowd were brilliant. We conceded the penalty and they got the lads going again."
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez:
"We couldn't get properly going today. We allowed the first goal to affect all the performance too much.
"We had a great chance in a one-against-one situation (from Hugo Rodallega). We usually take those and then they went up the other end and scored a little bit of a soft goal.
"From then on it seemed the day was going into Wolves' hands which was a little bit disappointing."
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The final whistle is blown by the referee.90:00 +3:08
Unfair challenge on Karl Henry by Emmerson Boyce results in a free kick. Wayne Hennessey restarts play with the free kick.90:00 +2:36
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Victor Moses, Karl Henry manages to make a clearance.88:57
Nenad Milijas decides to take a short corner.88:05
Mohamed Diame has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the target.86:25
Kevin Doyle concedes a free kick for a foul on Antolin Alcaraz. Direct free kick taken by Ali Al Habsi.85:44
The assistant referee flags for offside against Conor Sammon. Wayne Hennessey takes the indirect free kick.84:58
Conor Sammon produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the goal.83:38
Richard Stearman gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Victor Moses. Free kick crossed right-footed by Victor Moses from left wing, save made by Wayne Hennessey.82:32 Substitution
Substitution (Wolverhampton) makes a substitution, with Nenad Milijas coming on for Jamie O'Hara.81:43
Inswinging corner taken by Victor Moses.81:01
Corner taken right-footed by Victor Moses from the right by-line, Steve Gohouri takes a shot. Save by Wayne Hennessey.80:39
Effort on goal by Conor Sammon from 12 yards. Fantastic save by Wayne Hennessey.79:38
Free kick taken by Albert Crusat.79:38 Booking
Booking Jamie O'Hara is shown a yellow card.79:25
Free kick awarded for a foul by Jamie O'Hara on Maynor Figueroa.78:06 Booking
Booking Stephen Hunt shown a yellow card.76:56 Substitution
Substitution James McArthur on for David Jones.76:56 Substitution
Substitution (Wigan) makes a substitution, with Conor Sammon coming on for Hugo Rodallega.76:43
Hugo Rodallega produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the goal.
Effort on goal by Franco Di Santo from 20 yards. Save by Wayne Hennessey.74:27
Kevin Doyle gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Mohamed Diame. Mohamed Diame takes the free kick.72:01
Free kick awarded for a foul by Franco Di Santo on Karl Henry. Wayne Hennessey takes the free kick.71:36
Shot by Albert Crusat from 25 yards. Fantastic save by Wayne Hennessey.70:56
Jamie O'Hara takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Blocked by Antolin Alcaraz.70:00
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Jamie O'Hara from the right by-line.69:09
Foul by Antolin Alcaraz on Jamie O'Hara, free kick awarded. The ball is crossed by Jamie O'Hara, Christophe Berra takes a shot. Save by Ali Al Habsi.68:17
The referee blows for offside against David Edwards. Ali Al Habsi restarts play with the free kick.65:35
Shot by Jamie O'Hara from 12 yards. Ali Al Habsi makes a brilliant save.65:31
Shot by David Edwards from 12 yards. Maynor Figueroa gets a block in.65:38
The assist for the goal came from Jamie O'Hara.65:38 Goal scored
Goal! - Stephen Ward - Wolves 3 - 1 Wigan Stephen Ward grabs a goal from inside the area to the top right corner of the goal. Wolverhampton 3-1 Wigan.64:38
Jamie O'Hara restarts play with the free kick.64:02 Substitution
Substitution Ben Watson leaves the field to be replaced by Albert Crusat.64:02
Free kick awarded for a foul by Ben Watson on Matthew Jarvis.62:58
Corner from the right by-line taken by David Jones, clearance by Stephen Ward.62:48
Unfair challenge on Franco Di Santo by Stephen Ward results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Ben Watson.59:09
Foul by Jamie O'Hara on Antolin Alcaraz, free kick awarded. Antolin Alcaraz restarts play with the free kick.57:31
Unfair challenge on Steve Gohouri by Kevin Doyle results in a free kick. Steve Gohouri takes the free kick.57:18
Franco Di Santo gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Roger Johnson. Direct free kick taken by Stephen Ward.54:59
Karl Henry crosses the ball, Stephen Hunt produces a drilled right-footed shot from 12 yards. Save by Ali Al Habsi. Jamie O'Hara takes a shot. Ali Al Habsi makes a brilliant save.54:48
Jamie O'Hara provided the assist for the goal.54:48 Goal scored
Goal! - David Edwards - Wolves 2 - 1 Wigan David Edwards scores a goal from inside the six-yard box high into the middle of the goal. Wolverhampton 2-1 Wigan.51:54
Unfair challenge on Karl Henry by Mohamed Diame results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Wayne Hennessey.51:18
Hugo Rodallega concedes a free kick for a foul on Richard Stearman. Free kick taken by Roger Johnson.49:52
The assistant referee signals for offside against Franco Di Santo. Wayne Hennessey takes the free kick.48:17
Franco Di Santo has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the left of the goal.47:46
David Jones gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jamie O'Hara. Jamie O'Hara restarts play with the free kick.46:42
Victor Moses has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand post.45:01
The referee starts the second half.45:01 Substitution
Substitution Adlene Guedioura goes off and Matthew Jarvis comes on.45:00 +2:16 Half time
Half Time The first half comes to an end.45:00 +1:06
Shot by Stephen Hunt. Ali Al Habsi makes a save.45:00 +0:07
Corner taken by David Jones, Mohamed Diame gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Christophe Berra. Direct free kick taken by Wayne Hennessey.43:35
Jamie O'Hara has an effort at goal. Ali Al Habsi makes a brilliant save.43:04
Mohamed Diame challenges Adlene Guedioura unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jamie O'Hara crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, save made by Ali Al Habsi.41:27 Penalty
Penalty taken by Ben Watson is saved by Wayne Hennessey. Wolverhampton 1-1 Wigan.41:17 Goal scored
Goal! - Ben Watson - Wolves 1 - 1 Wigan Ben Watson finds the back of the net with a goal from close in to the bottom right corner of the goal. Wolverhampton 1-1 Wigan.40:24
Emmerson Boyce fouled by Stephen Hunt, the ref awards a Penalty.39:52
Foul by Stephen Ward on Victor Moses, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by David Jones.39:25
Unfair challenge on Antolin Alcaraz by Adlene Guedioura results in a free kick. Antolin Alcaraz takes the free kick.34:55
The assistant referee flags for offside against Stephen Hunt. Free kick taken by Antolin Alcaraz.33:02
Roger Johnson concedes a free kick for a foul on Franco Di Santo. Maynor Figueroa restarts play with the free kick.30:42
Kevin Doyle provided the assist for the goal.30:42 Goal scored
Goal! - Jamie O'Hara - Wolves 1 - 0 Wigan Jamie O'Hara gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Wolverhampton 1-0 Wigan.30:11
Hugo Rodallega produces a drilled right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty area which goes wide of the right-hand post.29:27
The official flags Hugo Rodallega offside. Wayne Hennessey takes the free kick.28:25
David Jones gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stephen Ward. Wayne Hennessey takes the free kick.25:40 Booking
Booking The referee shows Antolin Alcaraz a yellow card.23:25
Shot from 20 yards by Victor Moses. Blocked by Roger Johnson.21:04
Hugo Rodallega takes a shot. Save made by Wayne Hennessey.20:06
The offside flag is raised against Hugo Rodallega. Wayne Hennessey restarts play with the free kick.16:17
Headed effort from inside the penalty area by David Edwards misses to the right of the target.11:42
The assistant referee flags for offside against Franco Di Santo. Wayne Hennessey takes the indirect free kick.11:29
The referee blows for offside against Kevin Doyle. Free kick taken by Maynor Figueroa.10:24
Hugo Rodallega gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Richard Stearman. Roger Johnson restarts play with the free kick.9:30
The offside flag is raised against Hugo Rodallega. Free kick taken by Wayne Hennessey.8:02
The official flags David Jones offside. Wayne Hennessey takes the indirect free kick.7:42
Corner taken left-footed by David Jones to the near post, Kevin Doyle manages to make a clearance.5:43
David Jones concedes a free kick for a foul on Karl Henry. Direct free kick taken by Jamie O'Hara.4:49
Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Jamie O'Hara from the left by-line to the near post, clearance made by Steve Gohouri.4:28
Corner from the right by-line taken by Jamie O'Hara, Maynor Figueroa manages to make a clearance.2:42
Inswinging corner taken by Jamie O'Hara from the left by-line, Steve Gohouri makes a clearance.2:26
Shot by David Edwards. Save by Ali Al Habsi.0:00
The referee gets the game started.
Live data and text provided by our data suppliers