Latics produced a commendable performance against Premier League Leicester City at the King Power Stadium but slipped out of the FA Cup 2-0 at the Third Round stage.
The visitors started well but young full back Tom Pearce making his debut put into his own net after 19 minutes and after that it was always going to be an uphill struggle.
Harvey Barnes added a second via a deflection off Chey Dunkley just before the interval but Latics were not overrun in the second half and were unlucky not to pull a goal back when Jamal Lowe’s neat finish was ruled out for a marginal offside by VAR.
This was Latics’ first experience of the Video Assistant Referee and it is not something they will be looking forward to, if it continues in its current format.
The Foxes made 10 changes to the their starting line up from their previous game but Paul Cook also made six changes with new loan signing Kieran Dowell coming straight into the team for his debut. Left back Pearce also made his debut, whilst David Marshall, Dujon Sterling, Chey Dunkley and Gavin Massey also came in. Teenage striker Joe Gelhardt was once again left on the bench by the manager.
Latics were not overawed by second placed Foxes who have a League Cup semi final in midweek but the pace and creativity of the hosts was quickly on display as Dunkley made a good block from Marc Albrighton.
Marshall then denied Demarai Gray from 20 yards with a good save but on 19 minutes the Foxes were ahead as Albrighton crossed and Pearce got his feet in a tangle and put the ball into his own net. It was a very unfortunate moment for the young Ormskirk born defender on his Latics debut.
Despite the setback Latics remained competitive and they had a chance to open the scoring on 40 minutes as Massey’s cross found Dowell and the loanee’s effort was blocked by James Justin.
But the Foxes counter attacked quickly and Chilwell played in Barnes, who finished via a deflection off Dunkley.
Josh Windass continues to frustrate for Latics, often getting into good positions but failing to be clinical in front of goal.
On this occasion he got on the end of a Pearce cross but he couldn’t make it count.
In the second-half, Latics continued to probe but Leicester always looked dangerous on the counter attack and Dennis Praet headed wide from an Albrighton cross.
Latics looked to have pulled one back with 10 minutes remaining of normal time but although Lowe produced an excellent finish from a Pearce delivery VAR ruled the goal out for the most fractional offside. Surely something will have to be done to amend the offside rule if VAR becomes the norm. At the current time VAR is killing the spirit of the game.
Marshall denied Gray and Barnes in the final minutes but Latics had put in a good performance against a team who have strength in depth and are likely to be in the Champions League next season.
Latics have produced some improved performances in recent weeks, with the addition of Dowell and if Gelhardt is given his chance, the prospects of Latics pulling away from the Championship relegation zone are looking much better.