Wigan Athletic manager Paul Cook’s days must surely be numbered after another poor away performance and after conceding another late goal in the 2-1 defeat at struggling Stoke City.
Cook’s team have only won one of their last 30 away games and hover just above the Championship relegation zone. The away form is abysmal and the previously good home form has deteriorated in recent weeks. A change is surely in the offing?
Latics went in front at the Bet 365 Stadium when captain Samy Morsy capitalised on some poor defending by the hosts but in a one-sided second half they succumbed to Danny Batth’s set-piece equaliser and substitute Mame Biram Diouf’s 93rd minute winner.
Latics remain in 20th spot in the Championship table but are now only one point above the relegation drop zone and 22nd place Stoke.
Cook made four changes to the starting line-up from the 3-0 defeat at home to Brentford with Charlie Mulgrew, Joe Garner, Gavin Massey and Nathan Byrne coming into the team.
Latics were under pressure early on and were grateful to goalkeeper David Marshall for keeping them level.
Former Latic James McClean forced an excellent save from the Scotland number one before another ex Latic Nick Powell looked to have given Stoke the lead with a header but Marshall managed to tip the ball onto the cross bar.
Tom Ince blazed over for the hosts after seven minutes and it looked only a matter of time before they would take the lead but Latics somehow survived the initial onslaught.
The hosts inability to convert their chances gave Latics some hope and they had chances themselves when Jamal Lowe’s searching cross nearly found Gavin Massey at the back post and Chey Dunkley had a glorious opportunity to put them ahead from a corner but he headed narrowly wide of the target.
On 39 minutes a quick Latics counter-attack did give them the lead. Lowe broke out from defence and accelerated past several defenders and although he kicked the ball too far ahead Stoke keeper Jack Butland only kicked the ball against his own player and Morsy was able to capitalise on the keeper’s mistake for his first goal of the season.
Latics had rode their luck but were ahead at the interval and the prospects for at least a point looked promising.
But ten minutes after half time Stoke were level as Latics conceded a free-kick on the left hand side and they failed to defend the near post allowing defender Batth to score an easy equaliser.
Stoke were now exerting considerable pressure on the Latics goal and Cook went to a 4-4-2 formation, with Kieffer Moore replacing Lewis Macleod, in an attempt to change the direction of travel.
Michael Jacobs later replaced Massey and the statutory Cook substitution Kal Naismith came on for the last 10 minutes to replace Garner.
Marshall made another good save to deny Ince and Joe Allen volleyed narrowly wide on 92 minutes so it looked as though Latics might hold out for the draw, but their inability to manage out the game once again proved costly.
On 93 minutes Biram Diouf exploited some shambolic defending to gift Stoke all three points and condemn Cook’s team to yet another away defeat.
Cook’s fate is now in the balance after another defeat, the owners Next Leader Limited (NLL) and the Board of Directors may decide to give him more time with fixtures against Millwall (A) and Reading (H) coming up, but they must decide very soon whether they want to persist with Cook and risk the prospect of relegation.