Manager admits Latics were second best
Paul Dickov admitted Latics were second best after they suffered an agonising 2-1 npower League One derby defeat at home to Bury.
Latics’ manager had no complaints as the bottom-four Shakers recorded their first away league victory of the campaign.
And Bury’s strikes – an unfortunate own goal and penalty – just about epitomised what was a thoroughly miserable night for Latics whose goal from Robbie Simpson came deep into stoppage time when the damage had already been inflicted.
While it was a lethargic Latics’ display, Dickov was unhappy with two big refereeing decisions which went against his side.
Dickov was convinced Latics ought to have been awarded a spot kick midway through the second half following a challenge on Dean Furman describing it as blatant. He was also unhappy with the penalty Bury won.
He said: "I am not making excuses for getting beaten because we probably deserved it for our first-half showing, but two massive decisions went against us.
"I am just flabbergasted about the two penalty shouts. The foul on Dean was a stonewall penalty.
"As for Bury’s, the referee and his assistant had a conversation about it. Surely if the referee thinks it is a penalty he blows his whistle straightaway and, if there is any doubt, he doesn’t give it."
Reflecting on the game, Dickov admitted: "In the first half we were very poor and had no energy and enthusiasm about us.
"And it looked a different side to the one which has been playing in recent weeks which is puzzling as we haven’t changed anything in training.
"Bury worked their socks off, had a game plan and were better than us in the first half.
"In the second half we had a go which is the least the players can do. We huffed and puffed and put a bit of pressure on them, but it was too little, too late."
Cliff Byrne was declared fit to play as Dickov began with the same side which kicked off in Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Kidderminster.
But it was Bury who were quicker out of the blocks at the start and would have taken a seventh-minute lead but for a fine save from Dean Bouzanis to keep out Tom Hopper’s header.
And from Steven Schumacher’s resulting corner, Dominic Poleon had a great chance but could only shoot straight at keeper Trevor Carson.
It seemed to set the benchmark for a lethargic first-half display which saw Bury take the lead in the 34th minute through a bizarre own goal.
Matt Doherty’s cross from the right was met by Byrne whose headed clearance cannoned into the unlucky Tarkowski at point-blank range before diverting low past Bouzanis.
Dickov was prompted to make a first-half tactical change as Cristiano Montano was replaced by Dean Furman soon after the goal as Latics looked for more direction in midfield.
It took until three minutes before the break before Latics carved out their first meaningful chance, a drive from Simpson which forced a decent diving save from Carson.
Latics were livelier after the restart but lacked a cutting edge as a number of half chances were squandered.
Matt Derbyshire fired narrowly wide, Simpson’s drive dipped just over, a header from Jonathan Grounds flashed past the upright while Jose Baxter’s neat shot on the turn forced another diving save from Carson.
There was also a strong shot for a penalty midway through the half for a challenge by Zac Thompson on Furman.
Dickov made his final two changes with 19 minutes left when Baxter, who had picked up a knock in the opening half, and James Wesolowski were replaced by Chris Sutherland and Matt Smith.
Latics had a period of sustained pressure forcing a series of corners, but without seriously looking like conjuring an equaliser. Second-year scholar Sutherland made a bright cameo.
And Latics’ night became a whole lot worse in the 85th minute when they conceded a penalty after Tarkowski tripped David Worrall. Schumacher, who once had a short spell with Latics, smashed the spot kick into the top corner.
Latics did eventually find the net in the third of five minutes of added time when Simpson headed home a free kick from Lee Croft.
It proved too little, too late as Latics had a night they will quickly want to forget.
Latics (4-4-2): Bouzanis; Wabara, Byrne, Tarkowski, Grounds; Croft, Wesolowski (Smith 71), Simpson, Montano (Furman 37); Derbyshire, Baxter (Sutherland 71). Subs (not used): Cisak, Brown, M’Changama, Cooper.
Bury (4-4-2): Carson; Doherty, Lockwood, Hughes, Skarz; Poleon, Schumacher, Thompson, Worrall; Hopper (Bishop 75), Healy (Hewitt 54). Subs (not used): Sweeney, Jones, Carrington, Jones, Belford.
The goals: Simpson (90+3) for Latics. Tarkowski (34 own goal), Schumacher (85 pen) for Bury.
Bookings: Grounds (13) for Latics. Skarz (4), Schumacher (74), Doherty (82), Carson (87) for Bury.
Referee: Mr G Salisbury.
Attendance: 4,120 (734 visitors)