It was another desperately disappointing performance by Warren Joyce’s team as they lost 1-0 to Bristol City in a relegation six-pointer.
As the game moved towards the final whistle only one team looked likely to win it and Aden Flint duly scored for the Robins on 87 minutes.
In a must win game for Latics, Joyce failed to set his team up to attack with Omar Bogle once again designated as the lone striker.
Latics were bereft of ideas, creativity and the belief to take the game to a Bristol City team who had won only 2 of their previous 22 matches.
The home team had a couple of opportunities in the first half when David Perkins hit the crossbar and Bogle forced a good save from Frank Fielding but overall they failed to impose themselves against a team low on confidence.
Latics have won only five of Joyce’s 22 Championship games and they look destined for League One.
They remain in 23rd spot in the table four points away from safety with nine games left to play. Bristol move out of the bottom three and into 21st place.
There was one change to the starting line up from the Birmingham game with Perkins replacing the injured Max Power. Shaun MacDonald returned on the bench but Will Grigg was still unavailable due to injury.
Bristol started the game briskly and had a couple of speculative efforts from ex-Latic David Cotterill and Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham.
Latics’ best effort came on 23 minutes when Michael Jacobs’ corner wasn’t cleared and Jake Buxton teed up Perkins, whose shot from the edge of the box beat Fielding but hit the top of the crossbar and went over.
Soon afterwards a good pass from Jacobs set up Bogle in the box and the striker’s shot from a narrow angle was well saved by Fieding at his near post.
The Robins’ best effort came just before the break when Lee Tomlin set up Abraham in the box and Matt Gilks did well to block the prolific striker’s drive at close range.
Latics had failed to offer much going forward in the opening half and it was hoped that Joyce would change his approach for the second half.
Unfortunately the manager persisted with one striker, Bogle and winger Gabriel Obertan playing in a central position just behind him.
There was limited threat down the flanks as the Wigan players were instructed to track back to cover the opposition rather than get forward.
Obertan was showing glimpses of creativity and he tried a clever through ball to Bogle but Flint made a great interception to deny him.
Bogle forced a good save from Fielding at his near post but Latics’ threat was limited.
James Weir replaced Obertan on 68 minutes, then Mikael Mandron came on for Alex Gilbey but Latics continued to huff and puff and Bristol grew in confidence.
The Robins had a great chance on 80 minutes when substitute Josh Brownhill fired a low shot across a crowded box, then substitute Callum O’Dowda was denied when Gilks saved bravely with Abraham ready to pounce.
Only one team looked likely to take all three points and Bristol duly obliged when Tomlin’s corner wasn’t cleared and Aden Flint poked home from close range.
It was another abject performance by Latics who have only scored three goals in their last seven games and none from open play.
Joyce’s tactics and style of play have taken the club backwards since the departure of Gary Caldwell and unless there is a change in manager the future looks bleak.
Owner Dave Whelan and Chairman David Sharpe must be sorely regretting Alex Ferguson’s advice in appointing a man who had not managed in senior football for eight years.
Whether Whelan and Sharpe will accept their mistake and make a change is open to conjecture but the fans have already decided that Joyce’s time should be up.