LATICS 0 - 0 CARDIFF CITY
Graham Barrow’s Latics gave it everything to break through a stubborn Cardiff defence, but just couldn’t find the elusive goal they needed to give themselves a fighting chance of survival.
A draw here plus results elsewhere means that Latics’ Championship status now hangs by a thread, a point for Birmingham City at Aston Villa in the Sunday game will confirm relegation.
Unfortunately for Latics, Nick Powell could not write another chapter to his end-of season fairy-tale after he came on alongside fellow substitute Ryan Colclough with just over half an hour to play.
Latics had chances, and four penalty appeals turned down throughout the match, they gave absolutely everything they possibly could, but in the end, just couldn’t find a way through.
Barrow made three changes, Matt Gilks and Craig Morgan in for the injured Jakob Haugaard and Jake Buxton respectively while Reece Burke was back after missing 25 matches stretching all the way back to early December, Max Power dropping to the bench.
Latics enjoyed by far the better of the first half but the sides went in level at the break.
Latics started brightly, forcing four early corners, the last of which saw Morgan rise well to head Jamie Hanson’s delivery just wide of Ben Amos’ left hand post, in the 12th minute.
There were loud penalty appeals from Latics when Shaun MacDonald went down in the box under a challenge from Ecuele-Manga two minutes later but the referee wasn’t interested.
Latics kept pressing but the breakthrough wasn’t coming, despite a really good momentum and the lion’s share of possession.
Michael Jacobs let fly from 25 yards but his effort was well wide after 21 minutes.
Burke was the next to try his luck from distance, after 31 minutes, when he picked up the ball in the centre-circle, beat two men, but his shot was wide.
Two minutes later and a superb reverse ball from Gabriel Obertan released Burke down the right, who won a corner, from which Jacobs found space to cross and Morgan, on the stretch just in front of goal, wasn’t able to keep it on target.
Cardiff only had one opportunity of note, in the final minute of the half, when Craig Noone pounced on David Perkins’ misplaced pass in the area but his angled drive hit the crossbar.
Perkins shot from 20 yards within seconds of the restart, the ball just over the bar, as Latics made an immediate sign of their intent.
Barrow made the change everyone was anticipating in the 56th minute, Powell and Colclough replacing Obertan and Hanson, the crowd immediately coming to life.
Powell immediately created panic from a corner, the ball fell to Dan Burn but his volley was blocked.
In the 66th minute, there were more appeals for a penalty when Tunnicliffe jinxed his way past two players and went down in the box. Nothing given. Five minutes later and the DW was calling for another penalty, Powell this time going down under a challenge from Ecuele-Manga.
Barrow’s final throw of the dice was to hand Alex Bruce a Latics debut in place of Perkins After 80 minutes, with Burn pushed upfield as a second striker.
It was now or never for Latics, as Colclough twisted in the area to shoot, Amos saving at the near post. Powell and Colclough combined to create another opening but their shots were blocked in a crowded area, Powell’s effort cleared off the line.
Matthew Connolly then appeared to raise an arm to the ball in the box, but again no penalty.
Four minutes added time were announced but despite throwing everything at Cardiff in trying to create that elusive opening, Latics just couldn’t force a late twist.