BRENTFORD 0 LATICS 0Latics earned their first away point of the 2016/17 Sky Bet Championship season thanks to a resolute and battling display to earn a 0-0 draw at Brentford's Griffin Park, with Stephen Warnock leading by example as substitute Nick Powell almost clinched victory in stoppage time.
Warnock and his defence made crucial challenges and blocks throughout, with Dan Burn and Jake Buxton excellent in front of Adam Bogdan. Latics were almost equally as impressive at the other end in the final stages, with Powell, Yanic Wildschut and Adam Le Fondre a dangerous trio from the bench.
The point for Latics keep them 21st in the Championship table, but crucially a point on the road gives Gary Caldwell and his side something to build on away from home.
Latics made two changes from the last-gasp midweek victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers, with former Bees frontman Will Grigg coming in for Le Fondre, whilst Michael Jacobs returned to the starting XI for Wildschut.
It was a difficult opening period for the visitors, as Latics found it tough to maintain prolonged periods of possession, but what they did do was eliminate the Brentford threats, Warnock, sporting a head bandage following an aerial collision, and Burn making excellent challenges in the area to deny Scott Hogan and Lasse Vibe in the opening 25 minutes.
Latics almost caught the hosts cold twice within three first half minutes around the half an hour mark, first Grigg and Jacobs combining to set up Max Power who had his shot parried by Daniel Bentley, before Grigg got in behind but could only turn his shot across the face of goal from a tight angle.
A couple of yellow cards followed, first for Alan McCormack's challenge on Shaun MacDonald, the Brentford midfielder arguably lucky to be on the pitch after kicking out at David Perkins earlier in the half. Buxton's booking followed, as he slipped into a mistimed challenge on the previous offender.
Latics struck the side netting before the half was out when Nathan Byrne set up Power from a tight angle down the right, a positive sign heading into the break.
Warnock's defensive knowhow proved crucial 10 minutes after the interval, reacting to get his head in the way of Vibe's goal bound effort, before deflected John Egan's header onto the cross bar from the resulting corner.
MacDonald then blocked a cross to deny Hogan a clear header on goal, before Warnock was at it again, putting his head in the way of a powerful Egan effort from the edge of the area.
Double substitutes Powell and Wildschut began to cause problems just moments after their introductions, the latter setting up the former on the counter attack only for the final attempt to bobble wide.
MacDonald then made another goal-saving challenge this time on Vibe, before Wildschut, Powell and Jacobs combined to almost set Grigg up with a wicked cross from the right.
A carbon copy of the move came minutes later, before an inadvertent block from referee Andy Woolmer almost saw Brentford in on goal down the right, but Jacobs worked hard to make a recovering tackle.
Le Fondre replaced Grigg as the game headed into the final 10 minutes, and he was almost the hero within moments, but could only turn the near post delivery from a corner into the side netting.
It was end-to-end in the final exchanges, Buxton well placed to clear off his own line after Lewis MacLeod's cross was spilled by Bogdan, before Wildschut launched Latics straight up the other end, only for his dazzling run to be blocked late by Harlee Dean.
Powell brought about Latics' final two flash points, almost finding Le Fondre from the right by-line, before his powerful free kick following a bookable offence from Egan was awkwardly beaten away by Bentley for the final action of the game.