Wigan Athletic remain in the relegation dogfight after a 0-0 draw at home to Brentford and are four points above the drop zone with seven games remaining.
It was a creditable performance by Latics who had the best chances to secure all three points in a closely fought game.
Brentford had comfortably dispatched Latics earlier in the season at Griffin Park and had previously looked capable of being promotion challengers.
The Bees did threaten sporadically but Latics were the better outfit on this occasion.
Reece James’ 35-yard volley forced an acrobatic save from Luke Daniels, Gavin Massey had a one-on-one saved and the Bees keeper produced a full length save to deny Chey Dunkley’s diving header.
Dunkley also headed against the crossbar and Anthony Pilkington had a goal disallowed for offside but they just couldn’t find the finishing touches to secure the three points to pull them further away from the drop zone.
Latics made one change to their starting eleven following the win over Bolton Wanderers as Danny Fox returned to the side in the place of Cedric Kipre.
Both teams threatened in the opening ten minutes. Massey and Antonee Robinson had goal-bound efforts blocked for Latics before Neal Maupay dragged a shot wide for the Bees.
Latics player of the season Reece James went close with an improvised half volley on 25 minutes which was well tipped over by Daniels.
But the best chance of the first half fell to Massey after Nick Powell had done superbly to take the ball from deep in his own half. The winger was put in the clear by Powell but his final shot lacked real conviction and was saved by Daniels.
Brentford had enjoyed the greater possession and looked a threat on the break but Latics had created the better chances in the first half.
Early in the second half Christian Walton was at full stretch to deny Said Benrahma’s powerful effort from the edge of the box.
Latics then went close when Daniels denied Dunkley’s diving header following James’ corner-kick.
The hosts looked to have broken the deadlock on 75 minutes when Joe Garner’s towering header found substitute Pilkington at the back-post for an easy finish, but the goal was disallowed for offside.
The match was finely poised with Latics doing most of the pressing but with the Bees always a threat on the counter.
Latics almost got the all important winner on 83 minutes when Danny Fox’s cross was met by Dunkley but the centre-back’s looped header landed on the top of the crossbar and the match ended in stalemate.
Paul Cook’s reluctance to use Callum McManaman remains very puzzling. With 20 minutes remaining Latics needed a creative player who could unlock the Bees defence, but the manager left it until the 87th minute before introducing McManaman.
The change almost did the trick as the winger immediately breached the Bees backline before being brought down before he could cross.
Surely the change should’ve been made sooner if Cook wanted to secure the three points. Cook’s failure to use McManaman is one of the great mysteries of this season.
Latics now have some very tough fixtures ahead as they have to face several of the top teams, including Bristol City, Norwich City and Leeds United, and in that context this result inevitably felt like a wasted opportunity to take all three points.