It was a game of two halves as Wigan Athletic ground out a first league point in four games against Plymouth Argyle at the DW Stadium.
Latics produced a dreadful first half display as Argyle looked to have taken control. The visitors went ahead after 34 minutes when some shambolic defending allowed Ryan Hardie to chip the ball over Jamie Jones.
Latics were all at sea in the opening 45 minutes and could have been further behind if it wasn’t for some poor finishing by the visitors.
But Latics were a transformed team after the half time break and deservedly drew level when Kal Naismith’s chipped cross was headed home at the near post by substitute Will Keane on 69 minutes.
Both teams had chances to secure all three points in normal time and eight minutes of added time but a draw was probably a fair result in the end.
Latics move out of the bottom four and up to 18th in the League One table while Plymouth are in ninth place.
John Sheridan shuffled his pack after recent poor performances with Tom Pearce returning at left-back and Tom James moving across to right back. Will Keane dropped to the bench and Kal Naismith and Gavin Massey moved into more forward positions.
In very wet and windy conditions Latics lost winger Viv Solomon-Otabor to injury in the first minute and immediately had to reshuffle their formation with Keane coming on to replace him.
The hosts never settled in the opening half and looked disjointed and unable to get a foothold in the game. They moved the ball far too slowly and the visitors were easily able to break up any attacks.
Curtis Tilt blocked a goal bound shot on 25 minutes and Jones saved a 25-yard srike by Nottingham Forest loanee Tyrese Fornah soon afterwards as the visitors threatened to go ahead.
Jephcott then had a glorious chance to put Argyle in front but he headed wide of the target from a great position.
The visitors were ahead on 34 minutes when some shambolic Latics defending presented Argyle with the lead. Jones pass out to Pearce was too hard and in an attempt to control the ball he knocked into the path of Hardie who calmly chipped the ball over Jones and into the net.
Garner briefly threatened at the end of the half with an overhead kick which went narrowly wide, but Latics had produced a desperate first half display which was full of mistakes and lacking in any cohesion.
The hosts were lucky to go into the break only 1-0 down and Sheridan will have had some harsh words for the players during the interval.
Substitute Adam Long replaced the injured Darnell Johnson in Latics’ defence for the second half.
Latics seemed a transformed team for the second half and they started to move the ball much quicker and press higher up the pitch.
Soon after the restart they controversially had a goal disallowed. Naismith’s cross was headed back into the box by Garner for Lee Evans to finish but the linesman flagged and after a long consultation between the officials the goal was chalked off.
But Latics were not to be undone and they continued to press forward. James fired over the crossbar after Garner had set him up on 61 minutes and an excellent cross by Massey just evaded Garner on the edge of the six-yard box a minute later.
Latics were level on 69 minutes after a flowing move. Naismith produced a delicate chipped cross to the near post and Keane made no mistake heading his first goal for the club.
The hosts now looked the better team and most likely to get the winner as they pressed high and created chances.
But as the half wore on the game opened up with both sides creating more opportunities. Substitute Frank Nouble had a shot well blocked on 74 minutes and Long made an excellent defensive block to deny Danny Mayor on 77 minutes.
Naismith’s free-kick nearly fell into the path of Garner on 87 minutes and soon afterwards the Latics captain miscued his shot after good work by Keane had set him up.
Eight minutes of added time following the disallowed goal consultation and an injury to Curtis Tilt.
Long came to the rescue again on 93 minutes when he blocked another shot from Nouble who was through on goal.
The hosts were living dangerously as the visitors forced a succession of corners, but they might have won it in the 88th minute when on the break Garner played the ball to Evans in the box and he couldn’t quite get his shot away and the game ended in a draw.
A real game of two halves with Argyle dominant in the first half and Latics the better team in the second. Latics’ first half performance just wasn’t acceptable and they were lucky the game wasn’t out of sight by then.
Sheridan will be pleased with the players reaction in the second half. When Latics move the ball quicker and press high they look capable of matching any team in the division. The players must now ensure that they now maintain that high standard and if they can, they are capable of moving up the table.