Latics were unlucky to suffer a narrow 2-1 defeat to high-flying Lincoln City at Sincil Bank.
Kal Naismith’s deflected strike had given the visitors a 52 minute lead but a controversial free-kick was awarded to Lincoln on the edge of the area on 69 minutes and Jorge Grant curled the ball into the top corner for the equaliser.
In a closely fought game neither side created many clear cut chances but with seven minutes of normal time remaining the ball fell to Tom Hopper in the area and his low drive from inside the box went through the legs of defender Adam Long and into the net.
Latics were unable to respond to the setback and have now gone 13 games without a win and remain bottom of League One. Promotion chasing Lincoln move up to second in the table.
Naismith and Dan Gardner returned to the starting line up after injury but Gavin Massey was unavailable due to injury along with five other senior players.
Michael Appleton’s fourth placed Lincoln were looking to move up into the automatic promotion places but Latics matched their opponents in the first half.
Latics best chance of the half came on 27 minutes when Naismith headed the ball down to Curtis Tilt on the edge of the area but the on-loan defender’s strike was deflected for a corner.
The hosts best opportunity came on 41 minutes when Tilt’s mistake allowed Hopper to set up Brennan Johnson but the Nottingham Forest loanee poked the ball wide of the target from a good position in the centre of the box.
Latics had enjoyed plenty of possession in the first half and were organised and resilient in defence.
Early in the second half Tom James should’ve put the ball in the net from close range but he was flagged for offside.
Latics were went ahead on 52 minutes after good work by Matty Palmer. The Swindon loanee won the ball in his own half and played a quick forward pass to Naismith whose right footed shot was deflected past the wrong footed Lincoln keeper.
The game then entered a scrappy period with neither side creating any chances until referee Sam Purkiss made a highly controversial decision to award a free kick to Lincoln on the edge of the area.
Unfortunately for Latics the free kick was a huge turning point as Grant executed his set-piece to perfection curling the ball into the top corner.
Lincoln now had a foothold and they started to push Latics back into defence. On 81 minutes Tom James cleared off the line after Naismith had inexplicably headed the ball back to Joe Walsh.
Then on 83 minutes Hopper found space inside the Latics box and turned before firing low through the legs of Long and into the net.
It was hard for Latics to take after matching their promotion chasing opponents for much of the game. Fine margins had decided the game and on another night they might have come away with at least a draw.
Leam Richardson’s youthful charges are making small steps forward but they need their senior players back from injury as soon as possible if they are to move away from the relegation zone.
The Spanish takeover has still not been decided by the EFL and unless a decision is made this week it may be too late for the new owners to recruit new players in the transfer window.
Latics have enjoyed great success in recent years but it now seems as though nothing is going in their favour.