Coventry City v Latics
Defeats don’t come any more cruel than Latics’ injury-time loss at Coventry City where they were beaten 2-1 in npower League One.
The four minutes of stoppage time had been completed when James Bailey struck the decisive goal as the Sky Blues snatched a dramatic, last-gasp victory.
Latics, who gave a spirited display, had battled back after falling behind to a goal from substitute Stephen Elliott.
They were rewarded through Matt Smith’s 89th minute goal (pictured) which looked as though it would earn Latics a valuable away point in their battle to climb the table.
Manager Paul Dickov, while disappointed, was able to take positives from the defeat on their first-ever visit to the Ricoh Arena.
He said: "It was sickening and a tough one to take as I thought we definitely deserved at least one point. After we equalised, there was only one team wanting to win it.
"In the match we had three one on ones with their goalkeeper and, after we scored, Chris Sutherland had a great chance six yards out. We have to start taking them.
"Coventry broke and scored in the 95th minute which is the way things are going for us at the moment.
"What we have to do is roll up our sleeves, get stuck in and get on with it. There is nothing wrong with the character in the side - it’s just little things which are not going our way at the moment like Matt Smith being rugby tackled when we ought to have been awarded a penalty.
"I told to the players I feel for them, but don’t feel sorry for them as we cannot afford to feel sorry for ourselves. Life is all about challenges and so is football.
"And if the players show me the effort, character and commitment they did today, we will be fine."
Latics made one change from the side which kicked off last Saturday against Brentford as David Mellor replaced Carl Winchester as he made his first start of the season. He played wide left which enabled Robbie Simpson to switch inside.
If anything, Latics were marginally the more dangerous side in the opening period with Mellor’s inswinging corners causing mayhem.
Sky Blues’ keeper Joe Murphy saved well at the feet of Smith and to keep out a free kick from Jose Baxter. There was also the penalty appeal when Smith went sprawling.
Coventry, however, had the best chance of the opening period after half an hour when John Fleck’s shot was curling towards the top corner until it was brilliantly tipped over by Dean Bouzanis.
Simpson, returning to his former club, had two great chances early in the second period. He broke clear only for Murphy to block well at his feet and then saw a 25-yard drive fly narrowly wide.
Garry McSheffrey also crashed a free kick just wide for Coventry who made the breakthrough shortly after the hour mark.
McSheffrey fired over a cross from the left which Latics allowed to bounce inside the six-yard box to give substitute Elliott an easy headed goal only six minutes after making his entrance.
Latics sent on Daniel Taylor for Simpson midway through the half and, almost immediately, he broke clear only for Murphy to pull off another super save.
Bouzanis pulled off a great stop to claw out a header from Leon Clarke with Coventry claiming the ball had crossed the line.
Latics made their last two changes with 12 minutes left when Connor Brown and Chris Sutherland came on for Mellor and Lee Croft.
Baxter tested Murphy again from distance while Bouzanis turned a header from Richard Wood over the bar.
Latics were finally rewarded for their efforts with an 89th minute equaliser when Smith scored with a towering far-post header from Baxter’s corner, a goal which looked to have earned a point.
That was by no means the end of the drama, however, as Latics had a chance to take the lead as Coventry were clearly rattled by the equalising goal.
A chance fell to Sutherland six yards out in the 93rd minute, but he failed to connect cleanly enabling Murphy to save again.
What happened next underlined the fine margins between success and failure as Coventry broke away to snatch victory with almost the last kick of the match.
Cliff Byrne headed clear a left-wing cross but only as far as Bailey who rifled a shot from the edge of the box into the roof of the net to break Latics’ hearts.
Coventry City (4-5-1): Murphy; Christie, Wood, Edjenguele, Adams; McSheffrey (Thomas 86), Fleck (Moussa 58), Jennings (Elliott 55), Bailey; L Clarke. Subs (not used): Dunn, J Clarke, Cameron, Bell.
Latics (4-4-1-1): Bouzanis; Wabara, Byrne, M’voto, Grounds; Croft (Sutherland 78), M’Changama, Simpson (Taylor 65), Mellor (Brown 78); Baxter; Smith. Subs (not used): Cisak, Tarkowski, Millar, Winchester.
The goals: Elliott (61), Bailey (90+5) for Coventry, Smith (89) for Latics.
Bookings: Smith (20), M’voto (57), Grounds (78) for Latics.
Referee: Mr L Collins.
Attendance: 10,108 (380 visitors).