Latics produced a battling performance against Championship table-toppers Newcastle United at St James’ Park but still slipped to another damaging defeat.
They matched their expensively assembled opponents for most of the game and with a little more luck could have come away with a draw.
Neither team created any clear cut opportunities in the opening half hour but on 36 minutes the Magpies took the lead when former Latic Mohamed Diame found Dwight Gayle at the far post.
Latics lost striker Omar Bogle and midfielder Sam Morsy to injury at half time and it looked as though they would struggle without a central striker.
However, substitute Ryan Colclough and Michael Jacobs started to cause problems for the Newcastle back line and they drew level on 50 minutes through Jacobs.
Unfortunately Latics could only stay level until the 57th minute when Matt Ritche followed up a rebound off the post to head home.
Latics continued to battle for a point until the final whistle, Callum Connolly testing Darlow and Colclough firing just over the crossbar but Newcastle held on to maintain their position at the top of the table.
Interim manager Graham Barrow made three changes to the starting line up from the Aston Villa game with Captain Stephen Warnock back in place of the injured Andy Kellett, Callum Connolly was in for Craig Morgan and Max Power replaced Gabriel Obertan.
Both teams struggled to create any clear cut opportunities in an even opening half hour but Newcastle went ahead on 36 minutes after good work by Mohamed Diame. The fomer Latics midfielder found space on the right to fire across the face of goal and find Gayle at the far post to tap home.
Would the floodgates now open for Newcastle? The answer was no, and it was Latics who went closest just before the interval.
Dan Burn played through Omar Bogle into the box and Karl Darlow came scrambling off his line to deny the striker’s looped effort at close range.
Barrow was forced into making two changes at half time with the injured Bogle and Morsy being replaced by Colclough and Alex Gilbey.
Latics opened the second half brightly and they were soon on level terms.
Gilbey played the ball through to Jacobs on the edge of the area and he found his way past Laschelles before chipping over the advancing Darlow much to the delight of the travelling 1,200 Latics fans.
Latics then had two great chances to go ahead, first when Burn headed over Jacobs’ free-kick with the goal at his mercy, and secondly when Colclough broke free from his marker and fired his shot agonisingly across the face of goal.
But just when Latics looked the most likely to take the lead Newcastle went ahead when the ball fell invitingly to Ritchie inside the box. The striker’s half volley was tipped onto the post by Gilks and rebounded back to Ritchie to head home.
Despite the setback Latics continued to pose problems for the home team and Connolly forced Darlow to push over his powerful shot from the edge of the area. Burn was then unable to angle his header goalwards from another good position.
Colclough was making some good attacking runs and he fired a cracking shot just over the crossbar on 77 minutes.
Newcastle appealed for a penalty when Ritchie went down under a challenge from Jake Buxton on 83 minutes but referee David Coote waved away appeals.
Latics’ players continued to give their all until the final whistle but they were unable to create one final chance that might have gained them an important point.
The last two performances under Graham Barrow have been much improved but they are now seven points from safety with only seven games remaining and their survival prospects look slim.