A goalkeeping mistake by Lee Camp enabled Wigan Athletic to secure all three points against mid-table Birmingham City at the DW Stadium.
With 15 minutes remaining of an evenly matched encounter Latics substitute Anthony Pilkington tried a speculative 25-yard strike and the Blues keeper Camp somehow allowed the ball to squirm under his body and over the line.
Josh Windass had had three good chances to put Latics ahead but failed to convert and it looked as though the game was heading for stalemate until Pilkington’s late intervention and Camp’s blunder.
Latics move up to 17th and Birmingham drop down to 14th before Wednesday’s games.
Paul Cook made two changes from the starting eleven which was defeated at Fulham with Gavin Massey and Windass replacing Michael Jacobs and Lee Evans.
Latics made a positive opening with Kieffer Moore having an early effort well blocked by Harlee Dean in the penalty area.
Windass tried his luck from distance and Camp made a good save low down at his near post before Birmingham’s Dan Crowley fired wide from the edge of the area.
Lukas Jutkiewicz couldn’t quite get on the end of a knock down from Dean in the area as the visitors threatened to snatch the lead.
Windass had another opportunity to put Latics ahead before half-time but Camp was able to save comfortably this time.
The hosts best chance came early in the second half when Jamal Lowe got behind the visitors defence and crossed for Windass at the near post but the striker was unable to make it count.
Latics were producing a workmanlike performance with Charlie Mulgrew and Chey Dunkley strong in defence and captain Samy Morsy and Joe Williams combative in midfield but Latics strikers were lacking a cutting edge in the final third.
The match looked to be heading towards a draw until Pilkington replaced Lowe on 69 minutes, and six minutes later tried his luck from distance and keeper Camp allowed the ball to go under his body and roll over the line.
Latics might have added a second late on as substitute Evans headed over a Pilkington free-kick at the near post.
Birmingham offered little threat in the dying minutes and Cook’s men held on for a somewhat fortuitous three points.
Under pressure manager Cook will have been relieved to have seen his charges take all three points but the result should not be allowed to mask the team’s deficiencies and Cook’s ineffective long ball tactics.
Latics forward players are struggling to make an impact with new signings Kieffer Moore and Jamal Lowe yet to score. Going forward the manager persists with instructing his team to pump it long to Moore which invariably results in them losing possession.
A change in approach is required if Latics are to make real progress up the table. The long ball can’t be the main form of attack if they are to have any long-term success.
Joe Gelhardt is deserving of more game time and he is also the type of player who could benefit from playing alongside Moore.
Latics also desperately need to address their appalling away form starting at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, another defeat at Hillsborough and they will be back at square one.