Latics dominated Bristol City for most of this game but once again failed to be clinical in the final third and slipped further into relegation trouble as the visitors struck with two late counter-attacks.
The hosts dominated possession and played plenty of good football up to the final third but their lack of a goalscorer proved to be their downfall.
With the match finely balanced at 0-0 Latics went in search of the breakthrough but it was the visitors who broke quickly and Jamie Paterson produced a neat finish through David Marshall’s legs. Soon afterwards Paterson turned provider lifting the ball into the path of Famara Diedhiou who decisively found the corner of the net.
Latics drop a place to second bottom in the Championship table while Bristol City move up to ninth.
Paul Cook made two changes from the team which won away at Birmingham City with David Marshall and Kieran Dowell coming in for Jamie Jones and Michael Jacobs. A fit again Kieffer Moore was surprisingly not named in the match day squad and young striker Joe Gelhardt once again took up his place on the bench.
Latics started strongly and quickly took control of possession but found it difficult to penetrate in the final third.
Chances were few and far between but Joe Williams had a goalbound effort well blocked and Josh Windass had a deflected shot saved by Dan Bentley.
Diedhiou headed over from six yards out and he also had a goal disallowed for offside as the visitors threatened on the break.
Early in the second-half Dowell, who made a very promising home debut, forced a good save from Bentley.
Soon afterwards, Dowell crossed for Nathan Byrne but the full back headed wide of the target.
Windass then saw an effort saved by Bentley before Diedhiou volleyed towards the top corner and Marshall produced a spectacular save tipping the ball over the crossbar.
Cook made a double substitution on 68 minutes with Gelhardt and Joe Garner replacing Windass and Joe Williams.
Dowell was proving to be the creative force that Latics have been lacking and he created another chance on 72 minutes when he crossed for Garner but the striker’s header was well saved low down by Bentley.
Gelhardt was quickly in the thick of the action and causing problems for the City backline. He fired an excellent strike just inches over the crossbar on 76 minutes.
But in pressing for the breakthrough Latics left themselves exposed on the break and City executed a slick counter attack.
Paterson broke through from midfield and finished confidently past Marshall on 77 minutes.
As per usual when Latics go behind the players heads go down, and two minutes later the visitors doubled their lead when Paterson lobbed the ball in to the path of Diedhiou who finished into the corner of the net.
Latics had a quick opportunity to get a goal back as Garner headed into the path of Jamal Lowe, but the winger just couldn’t finish under pressure from Ashley Williams.
Lowe had another opportunity later on when he headed tamely at Bentley. The close season signing from Portsmouth had once again failed to impress and it is surely time for him to be rested.
It was another frustrating afternoon for Latics who had played well up to the final third but lack a cutting edge where it matters.
Latics are the lowest scorers in the Championship and it is obvious where they must improve but the manager has consistently failed to address the problem.
Cook’s decision not to include striker Moore in the team was surprising and the manager’s refusal to start Gelhardt continues to be baffling.
Cardiff City have reportedly had a transfer bid for Moore turned down and this may partly explain his exclusion. But surely if Cook wants to keep Moore, as he says, he should use him in the team.
It therefore seems likely that the manager is prepared to sell Moore for the right fee and he will leave before the end of the transfer window. If that is the case Latics must quickly find a replacement striker as well integrating Gelhardt into the team.