Wigan Athletic’s Jekyll and Hyde form continued when they produced another abject away performance at Millwall and succumbed to a fifth successive away defeat.
Latics had performed superbly winning 1-0 against title favourites West Bromwich Albion at home on Saturday but this was the complete opposite. A dispiritingly poor performance against a team who were struggling in the relegation zone.
Latics were outplayed for long periods in an error-strewn display at the Den. The Lions won most of the 50/50 battles and when Latics did get the ball they gave it away far too easily.
In spite of Millwall’s overall dominance Latics undeservedly went ahead with an own goal from Jed Wallace just before half time.
Paul Cook’s team were gifted a chance to double their lead when they were luckily awarded a penalty when James Vaughan fell in the box, but Josh Windass wasted the golden opportunity blazing the ball high over the crossbar.
The miss proved to be a crucial turning point as the Lions went up the other end and were awarded a penalty themselves when Reece Jones was adjudged to have fouled Aidan O’Brien.
Shaun Williams converted the spot-kick and on 84 minutes substitute Steve Morison won it for Millwall.
Cook decided to make three changes to the team which defeated West Bromwich on Saturday with Kal Naismith, Callum Connolly and Vaughan coming into the starting eleven.
The manager surprisingly decided to change from his preferred formation of 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2, which matched Millwall’s formation, with Windass and Vaughan as the two main strikers.
Windass had an early opportunity when he picked up Christian Walton’s long ball but he fired wide of the target from a tight angle. But for the rest of the half it was mainly Millwall dictating the play and Latics giving the ball away needlessly.
Cedric Kipre cleared off the line from Wallace’s goal-bound effort as the Lion’s pressure increased. The home team producing a series of searching crosses into the visitors penalty area.
But against the run of play Latics went ahead just before the interval as Lee Evans’ free kick was inadvertently headed into his own net by Wallace.
Latics couldn’t quite believe their luck and they could have been two up soon after the restart when Vaughan was clean through on goal, but his poor first touch let him down and the ball ran away from him and keeper Ben Amos saved at his feet.
Around the hour mark Latics were gifted another opportunity when Vaughan fell in the box after limited contact from a defender. In the absence of the usual penalty takers Will Grigg and Nick Powell, Windass stepped up but blazed his spot-kick high over the crossbar.
The Lions almost immediately capitalised on the miss and were awarded a penalty themselves when James jumped into O’Brien in the area. Williams converted the spot-kick smashing the ball high into the top right hand corner of Walton’s net.
The visitors defence was under siege now as the Lions grew in confidence and the inevitable winner came on 84 minutes when Morison tapped home from close range.
Latics might have managed an undeserved equaliser just before full time when a limping substitute Nick Powell couldn’t make a proper contact with his header inside the six yard box.
The result drops Wigan down to 10th and moves Millwall up to 19th in the Championship table.
Latics home form has been outstanding under Paul Cook only losing two of their last 36 league games. However, the away form, apart from the win at Stoke, has been very disappointing this season. In particular the last two away performances losing 4-0 at Deepdale and losing 2-1 at the Den have been dire.
The next fixture is away at second-placed Sheffield United on Saturday and they will need to show a vast improvement if they are to get anything from the game.