Warren Joyce hit out at Wigan Athletic’s ‘game management’ after their 3-2 at home to fellow strugglers Ipswich.
Latics fought back admirably from going a goal down after only seven minutes - following a quite ridiculous penalty award against Dan Burn - to lead just after the hour mark thanks to a brilliant brace from Yanic Wildschut.
Despite enjoying all the play and creating several decent openings, Latics were unable to kill off their opponents, and paid a high price when Brett Pittman scored his second goal at the three-quarter mark.
The home side threw everything at Town in search of a winner, but were hit on the counter with only two minutes to go when David McGoldrick headed home off the post.
And Joyce could not hide his dismay, and frustration, at a fifth defeat in seven matches since he took charge last month.
“I’m disappointed obviously with the first goal, it’s a real kick in the teeth because it’s not a penalty, and suddenly we’re 1-0 down and in a difficult situation,” the Latics chief assessed.
“With the way results have gone - results, not performances - it tested our character, and I thought we showed great character.
“It wasn’t quite smooth in the first half, but I thought we were good value to go in at half-time at 1-1.
“I thought we played some really flowing football in the second half, and I don’t think scoring three or four goals would have been unrealistic.
“It’s a real kick in the teeth to concede again, and I thought we could have managed the game better at 2-1.
“At 2-1, the very worst you want to do is win the game 2-1.
“At best, you’re getting the ball to Yanic and making it three or four.
“At 2-1, you need to make sure you’re keeping them penned in with good control.
“But every time we gave the ball away we looked vulnerable on the counter.”
Latics were delivered a low blow within seven minutes of the kick-off, with the award of a penalty after Burn was adjudged to have fouled Tom Lawrence, despite clearly winning the ball - outside the area!
“The fourth official told me straightaway at the time that it was a free-kick from the first incident, which was well outside the box,” revealed Joyce.
“He actually said that, those were his words: ‘It’s a free-kick, he’s pulling it back to the first incident, not the tackle’.
“It looked a straight-forward tackle from Dan, that was the way it looked to me.”
Credit Latics for the way they responded, with Wildschut scoring the side’s first goal at the DW since September 27 just after the half-hour mark - ending a drought of 457 minutes - before doubling his tally in the second half.
“The way Yanic was playing, you’re just trying to get him the ball,” enthused Joyce.
“Every time he got it, it looked like something was going to happen.
“We have to recognise things like that better, and get it to him as much as possible.
“We’ve challenged him in two or three different positions, because we see him as a multi-functional forward who can play anywhere across the line - right, left or centre.
“I’m just disappointed we didn’t end up with more goals at the end of some really good play.
“There were some clever balls in behind the full-back from (Jordi) Gomez - a really high level of skill - and you’re waiting for just an easy tap-in.
“As well as the great level of individual skill that Yanic’s got, sometimes that last little ball has to result in a tap-in from somebody.
“It’s concentration...even though he scored two goals, it wouldn’t be unrealistic for him to have come off having scored three or four.”
Having got themselves in front, Latics paid a high price for failing to finish off their opponents when Brett Pittman added his own second goal, before David McGoldrick won it with two minutes to go with a header that went in off the post.
“It was like a boxing match in that second half,” Joyce acknowledged. “You’ve got to put your opponent to the sword, you have to be ruthless.
“We had loads of good opportunities, loads of good efforts, balls going across the six-yard box.
“At 3-1 the game is dead, but at 2-1, you’re always vulnerable at the other end.
“It’s another poor goal to concede, and we’re talking again about basic, individual errors.
“Of course that’s the way the luck’s going at the moment, but you can’t feel sorry for yourselves in this game.
“I thought the players showed plenty of character to get back into the game in the first half, and in the second half we played some good football.
“It’s cruel...to lose to a goal in the last minute, off the inside of the post, it’s hard to take.
“But you’ve got to dust yourself down and go again.”