Wigan Athletic battled to their first win in seven matches with a narrow 1-0 victory at fellow strugglers Northampton Town.
In a dour encounter on a poor pitch neither team created many clear-cut chances, but it was the visitors who secured the win with the one moment of real quality during the 97 minutes.
In the 82nd minute Callum Lang shrugged-off two defenders and drove forward into the box before shooting low into the bottom right corner of the net.
The hosts rarely threatened keeper Jamie Jones throughout and Latics well-marshalled defence held out for a valuable three points in their quest for survival.
Latics move up to 21st place and our now only in the relegation zone on goal difference. The Cobblers drop to 23rd spot on goal difference.
Leam Richardson made three changes to his starting eleven from the defeat against AFC Wimbledon. Full back Tom Pearce was injured, striker Jamie Proctor was self isolating and midfielder Dan Gardner dropped to the bench.
On a very cold night on a difficult pitch Latics had an early chance when Will Keane escaped his marker and his shot from close range was initially saved by Jonathan Mitchell, the ball rebounded to Thelo Aasgaard who seemed odds on to score but his strike hit Lang and Northampton escaped.
Both teams struggled for any cohesion and long hopeful balls forward became the norm. The Cobblers had their first chance on the half hour mark when Peter Kioso blazed over the crossbar following a corner.
Apart from those chances the most interesting period came when there was a prolonged game of head tennis in midfield as both teams failed to get the ball down and play football.
0-0 at half-time with neither team looking likely to score unless there was a significant improvement.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first with neither team finding any cohesion on the bumpy pitch. Latics delivery from set-pieces was once again found wanting and it is something on which they must improve.
However Latics’ defence was looking more solid than in recent games with Curtis Tilt dominating the back line alongside George Johnson and Scott Wootton.
Just when it looked like neither team would create a decent goalscoring opportunity, Lang stepped forward.
The well-travelled striker shrugged-off two defenders and drove into the box before shooting powerfully into the bottom right corner. A moment of class in what had been a poor game.
Keane had a half chance a couple of minutes later but he couldn’t control the ball on the edge of the area and the opportunity went begging.
Northampton took off their captain and centre-back Cian Bolger and replaced him with striker Caleb Chukwuemeka in an attempt to get something from the game but despite seven minutes of added time Latics held on for a vital victory.
After three consecutive defeats this was an essential three points in their relegation fight. This was an improved performance by Latics but it was against a poor Northampton team.
Unfortunately they will face much sterner opposition in the coming weeks against in-form Oxford United, Hull City and Lincoln City.