I could not fault their effort, says Tony
Caretaker Manager Tony Philliskirk delivered an upbeat message following Latics’ first npower League One defeat since he took temporary charge at Boundary Park.
They were beaten 2-0 at home by promotion-chasing Sheffield United, a result which drops Latics back into the relegation places.
Second-half goals from Michael Doyle and Dave Kitson made it 16 points out of 18 for the Blades who kept a fifth successive clean sheet.
Philliskirk, who had overseen three successive league wins, said: "I could not fault the effort of the players because I thought we had a right good go.
"And on another day had we not made the two individual mistakes, then we would have been stood here talking about a goalless draw which I would have been delighted with.
"When you are down at the bottom you make mistakes and tend to get punished as happened today.
"If we had a little bit of luck and the odd decision had gone our way, we might have got something from the game.
"It is about keeping the players positive and, when I look at what we have in the changing room, we should not be in the bottom four.
"We played the best team in the league in my opinion and ran them close so we should be majoring on the positives. And if we keep showing the spirit and determination, I am sure we will get out of trouble."
Philliskirk described the Blades as the most impressive team he has seen in League One.
He said: "As my lad was at Sheffield United until recently, I have seen them play a lot.
"I will be flabbergasted and there will be something wrong if they don’t go up.
"They are the most efficient team I have seen in League One. They are no frills, work hard and have a lot of experienced players who make the right decisions at the right time.
"They playing winning football and take no chances. We took two and conceded two goals and that was the difference between the two teams.
"They are a very good League One team which is why they will probably go up. You have to give them credit for the way they made things difficult for us."
There were four changes from the midweek FA Cup with Budweiser, fifth-round replay defeat at Everton.
Dean Bouzanis, Chris Iwelumo, Jordan Obita and Lee Barnard made way for Alex Cisak, James Wesolowski, Robbie Simpson and Matt Smith.
There was little to choose between the teams in the goalless opening half.
Cisak pushed a Harry Maguire shot from Barry Robson’s free kick round the post for a corner while James Tarkowski made a good block to deny Tony McMahon.
As for Latics, Baxter had three goal attempts but each cleared the crossbar.
The breakthrough came in the 57th minute following a bad back pass from Tarkowski which enabled Dominic Poleon to broke clear on the right.
The on-loan striker from Leeds United saw his angled shot beaten out by Cisak but only as far as Doyle who, from just inside the box, shot in off the upright.
Obita replaced Wesolowski midway through the second half and almost immediately set up Robbie Simpson who, as this picture shows, appears to have been clearly fouled as he challenged to meet his cross.
Philliskirk described the penalty appeal on Simpson as "unbelievably blatant" and he could not understand why it was not given.
Latics kept battling and Smith had two chances to equalise – a header which flew just wide and show which forced a scrambling save from Blades’ keeper George Long who also blocked Dean Furman’s follow-up shot.
It looked as Latics might snatch an equaliser until they were undone again defensively with four minutes left.
Cisak raced 16 yards from his line but failed to gather McMahon’s free kick which enabled Kitson to head into an empty net.
Latics might have halved the deficit in the last minute when Smith’s excellent header from Croft’s cross was kept out by a flying save from Long.
In stoppage time Cisak made an equally fine stop to deny Doyle as the Blades almost added a third goal.
Latics (4-4-1-1): Cisak; Brown (Iwelumo 78), Tarkowski, M’voto, Grounds; Croft, Furman, Wesolowski (Obita 65), Simpson; Baxter; Smith. Subs (not used): Murray, Taylor, Millar, Jacob, Winchester.
Sheffield United (4-4-2): Long; McMahon, Maguire, Collins, Hill; Robson, Doyle, McDonald, Flynn; Poleon (McFadzean 72), Kitson. Subs (not used): Westlake, Cresswell, Ironside, Whitehouse, Coyne, De Girolamo.
The goals: Doyle (57), Kitson (86) for Sheffield United.
Bookings: M’voto (18), Simpson (35) Baxter (83) for Latics. Doyle (33), McDonald (74), Kitson (87) for Sheffield United.
Referee: Mr A Woolmer.
Attendance: 6,426 (2,591 visitors).