In a game of two halves Wigan Athletic were edged out by fellow strugglers AFC Wimbledon at the DW Stadium.
The visitors dominated the first half and went ahead on 22 minutes when Nesta Guinness-Walker got to the byeline and pulled the ball back to Jack Rudoni who flicked the ball home from very close range.
The Dons doubled their lead on the half hour mark as Latics defence appealed for offside, Joe Pigott calmly collected Will Nightingale’s through ball and finished past Jamie Jones.
Latics got a lifeline just before half time as Curtis Tilt headed home from very close range to reduce the deficit.
The second half was a different story as Latics upped their game and pushed Wimbledon into defence. The hosts drew level on 68 minutes when Tom Pearce’s free kick was deflected into the path of Jamie Proctor who rifled the ball into the bottom left corner.
With Latics the dominant outfit they succumbed to a sucker punch on 75 minutes when with the Wimbledon attack seemingly going nowhere the ball was cleverly back heeled by Rudoni, Jones was slow to respond and brought down Ethan Chislett for a penalty. Pigott stepped up and calmly converted the spot kick.
Despite a late Latics onslaught Wimbledon held on the secure an important three points in the relegation battle.
Latics remain second bottom and four points from safety while AFC Wimbledon move up to 19th place and one point above the drop zone.
Leam Richardson made one change to his starting eleven from the defeat against Swindon with Jamie Proctor making his debut in place of Zach Clough. Viv Soloman-Otabor took his place on the bench after returning from injury.
Despite being on an 11 game winless run the visitors asserted themselves with a high press which denied Latics time on the ball.
Latics struggled to get into the game and Wimbledon looked the most likely to go ahead. Callum Reilly went close for the visitors when his shot was deflected narrowly wide on 14 minutes.
The hosts were denied a penalty on 21 minutes when Pearce was barged over in the box but referee Andy Haines waved away Latics’ appeals.
A minute later and the Dons were ahead as Guinness-Walker got to the bye line and pulled the ball back to Rudoni who flicked the ball home from very close range.
Chislett might’ve have added to their lead moments later when he nutmegged Pearce near the byeline before crashing his shot against the crossbar.
Three minutes later the visitors did increase their lead when Nightingale’s pass found Pigott in yards of space and he ran through unchallenged before slotting the ball past Jones.
Latics had been very poor for most of the half but they did improve just before half time. Darikwa’s shot was deflected narrowly wide on 42 minutes and four minutes later Tilt headed home from close range following a corner.
The hosts were much brighter in the second half and played with more vigour and determination.
Scott Wootton headed narrowly wide of the near post from Pearce’s corner and Proctor’s header was deflected wide by Nightingale soon afterwards.
The former Rotherham striker then had a great chance to draw Latics level but he blazed wide of the target after good work by Chris Merrie.
At the other end Jones saved well low down to his right from Rudoni’s strike.
But Latics were in the ascendancy now and drew level on 68 minutes when Pearce’s free kick was deflected into the path of Proctor who rifled the ball into the bottom left corner.
It looked like Latics might now go on to win the game but some sloppy defending allowed Wimbledon to restore their lead nine minutes later.
Rudoni chased down a ball that looked to be going out of play before back heeling into the penalty area and Jones was slow to respond and brought down Chislett for a penalty. Wimbledon’s leading scorer Pigott stepped up and calmly converted the spot kick.
Latics pressed for the equaliser and created several good chances in the seven minutes of added time.
Proctor headed narrowly wide of the top corner from Pearce’s free kick, Lang fired just wide after a good turn in the area and Tilt’s looped header from another Pearce cross was saved by Walker.
But Wimbledon held on for the points and Latics slipped to their third consecutive defeat.
It had been an erratic display by Latics. A woefully poor first half performance followed by a much improved second half but once again some terrible defending had proved costly.
Richardson will be left extremely frustrated by this performance against a team who had not won in 11 games.
Credit to Wimbledon for a good first half performance but Latics didn’t start to play until they were two goals behind.
Latics are a team in transition due to administration and new players coming into the team but all three goals could’ve been avoided with better defending. They are their own worst enemy at the moment and they must tighten up defensively if they are to have any chance of staying up.
On a more positive note when they started to play in the second half they looked much more of a goal threat with Proctor scoring on his debut and they created many more chances than in recent games.