Latics' manager laments his "brave losers"
There was an overwhelming sense of disbelief and dismay at Deepdale as Latics amazingly contrived to lose 2-1 to Preston North End in a Sky Bet League 1 match they completely dominated.
Sadly all the compliments – lavished by Sky pundits to Preston manager Simon Grayson – were of little consolation as Latics came away empty handed.
The nation witnessed a terrific footballing display from Latics in every facet except finding the net and even home fans were remarking it was daylight robbery how their side had picked up three points.
Latics enjoyed almost two thirds of possession, had 19 goals attempts to seven from Preston while the corner count was also 12-1 in their favour.
But perhaps the most telling fact was that home goalkeeper Declan Rudd was named man of the match.
That was of little comfort to Latics’ manager Lee Johnson who said: "It was the same old story as we dominated the game but lacked savvy.
"To have something like 19 chances away to a team like Preston shows how well we played, but we are stood here brave losers which is the tag we need to shake off very quickly as we need to win games.
"It is nice to be clapped off by their fans, but the fact is that we have dominated another game without coming away with three points."
Johnson was disappointed with the penalty needlessly conceded by James Wesolowski which enabled Preston to establish a 2-0 lead late in the opening period.
Latics' manager added his side will have to make its own luck explaining they have not scored enough for their minutes of domination in matches and conceded too many in the times when his side has not dominated which have been short spells of games.
There were two changes from the side which kicked off at Shrewsbury six days earlier as Wesolowski and James Dayton won recalls in place of Anton Rodgers and Albert Kusnak.
Latics fell behind in the 13th minute when Sidney Schmeltz was penalised for raising his foot to make a clearance not far outside the penalty area.
Joel Byrom’s free kick took a wicked deflection off striker Stuart Beavon who was positioned in the defensive wall and left keeper Mark Oxley wrong-footed as it whizzed past him.
Latics were far from deflated and responded with all guns blazing as they began to pepper the home goal which incredibly remained intact.
Schmeltz, keen to made amends for his mistake for the goal, was released by an inch-perfect pass from Philliskirk only to see Rudd make a flying save to keep out his shot.
Inswinging corners from Joseph Mills were causing mayhem in the Preston defence and Rudd had to make a couple of athletic tip overs from under his own crossbar.
You had a feeling it was not going to be Latics' night when they had an amazing double miss from Schmeltz's 26th minute corner.
Rudd did well to keep out a header from James Tarkowski and Philliskirk, following up, saw his shot cleared off the goalline by Scott Laird.
Disaster struck seven minutes before the break when Latics conceded a penalty when Kevin Davies, running away from goal, was needlessly shoved in the back by Wesolowski. Davies picked himself up to blast home the spot kick.
It was very much the same storyline in the second period as left-back Mills, a constant threat with his overlapping runs, brought another decent diving save from Rudd.
Laird, Davies and Stuart Beavon all fired wide as Preston looked for a third goal.
It was Latics who remained in control possession wise, but were unable to find a route to goal.
Cristian Montano, Charlie MacDonald and Jonson Clarke-Harris all made their entrances between the 65th and 75th minutes as Latics looked for a way back into the game.
That came not from one of those attackers, but defender Tarkowski who converted Philliskirk’s corner with a near post glanced header (pictured) with seven minutes left.
Suddenly it was game on as Latics sensed they could take something from the game as Preston, without a home league win, suddenly became nervous and jittery.
And in stoppage time Tarkowski almost became the hero of the night when another excellent header, this time from a Mills cross, flashed just wide of the upright.
It was so near and yet so far for Latics who will surely play far worse in games this season and emerge victors.
Preston (3-4-1-2): Rudd; Huntington, Clarke, Wright; Laird (Hayhurst 70), Keane, Byrom (Welsh 70), Buchanan; Holmes; Beavon (Garner 88), Davies. Subs (not used): Stuckmann, Wroe, Mousinho, Hume.
Latics (4-4-2): Oxley; Lanzoni, Tarkowski, Grounds, Mills; Schmeltz (Montano 65), Wesolowski (Clarke-Harris 75), Smith, Dayton; Rooney (MacDonald 65), Philliskirk. Subs (not used): Kusunga, Mellor, Rachubka, Rodgers.
The goals: Beavon (13), Davies (38 pen) for Preston. Tarkowski (83) for Latics.
Bookings: Clarke (45+1), Holmes (84) for Preston.
Referee: Mr M Naylor.
Attendance: 10,292 (594 visitors).