BEN Watson’s first goal in nearly a year wasn’t enough to prevent Wigan Athletic crashing to another damaging defeat aggainst relegation rivals Rotherham.
Latics are now six points adrift of the safety mark in the Championship heading into the Boxing Day clash at Leeds, which marks the halfway mark of the campaign.
After a bright start, Malky Mackay’s men fell behind to a goal that summed up the season to a tee.
There seemed little danger as the home side had possession on the edge of their own box, but a catastrophic blunder from Andrew Taylor gifted the ball to Tom Lawrence.
The on-loan Leicester man duly picked his spot and side-footed the ball past an exposed Scott Carson five minutes before the break.
After the second-half introduction off the bench of strikers Marc-Antoine Fortune and Oriol Riera, Latics rallied and levelled the scores just after the hour mark.
James McClean’s corner from the right was a beauty and Watson headed into the roof of the net from close range.
But just as Latics were thinking about pushing for a second goal, they were rocked by Rotherham regaining the lead within a minute.
Emmanuel Ledesma’s free-kick found Alex Revell in the area, and the Millers striker beat Carson with a looping header.
Latics nearly found a second equaliser in the closing stages, but Fortune blazed over from a good position while Riera’s late header hit the crossbar.
Wigan’s plight was summed up when, just after making their third substitution, Leon Barnett limped off with a hamstring injury that caused them to play out the final stages with 10 men.
FOR A FULL MATCH REPORT, REACTION AND PICTURES SEE MONDAY’S WIGAN EVENING POST ...