A POINT on the road doesn’t necessarily signal failure.
But Wigan Athletic will be kicking themselves after failing to rack up a hat-trick of victories over the Railwaymen of Crewe.
Reece Wabara’s rocket had given in-form Latics a decent platform after only 16 minutes.
However, a killer second goal that would surely have been the ticket to three points proved annoyingly elusive - and allowed the home side a route back in.
After hanging on for the first half-hour, Crewe levelled just before half-time when, following a Latics corner, Bradden Inman broke to lash past Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Try as they might, Latics couldn’t force a late winner, and the home side could even have nicked all three points in an end-to-end final quarter.
Wigan’s misery was compounded by losing Michael Jacobs on the half-hour mark with a worrying-looking calf injury.
And their pleasure at moving up a place to fourth in the table will be tempered by the fact they really should have been a further two points nearer the top of the table.
With both sides desperate for points at either end of League One, it was no surprise to see a really open start to the game.
Crewe threatened with their first real attack as Ryan Colclough ran fully 50 yards before forcing a fine save from Jaaskelainen at his near post.
But Latics, too, were looking dangerous with the ball, and duly took the lead with their first effort of note.
Wabara, who recently joined on a short-term deal until the end of the season, found the ball at his feet on the edge of the area.
And the ex-Manchester City junior was rewarded for trying his luck by finding the top corner from 20 yards.
Goalkeeper Ben Garratt was nowhere near it, but he did considerably better moments later when Jordy Hiwula got a touch to Chris McCann’s left-wing cross.
Another routine save followed from a Jacobs free-kick from distance that was straight down the middle of the goal.
But Garratt was forced into decent action on 27 minutes when Yanic Wildschut surged into the area, causing panic among the home defenders.
The flying Dutchman’s first effort was parried out by Garratt - when a shot into either corner may have troubled the custodian more.
Then, from the rebound, Wildschut’s attempt to fire goalwards was thwarted by a couple of the Crewe backline.
Latics suffered a huge blow on the half-hour mark when Jacobs was forced to retire after picking up a calf injury that required a stretcher to help him back to the dressing room.
Haris Vuckic, impressive in the last two outings, was the man called on to replace the Latics playmaker.
But before the Slovenian could get a foothold into the game, Crewe had forced a leveller.
There seemed little imminent danger as Latics forced another corner and looked to make it count.
But barely seconds later the ball was right up the other end, with Inman free to blast past a helpless Jaaskelainen.
Wigan’s attempts to regain the lead at the start of the second half were denied by the width of a post, when Wildschut cut in from the left and saw his vicious shot beat Garratt but not the woodwork.
A quickfire trio of bookings for Latics - to McCann, Max Power and Dvaid Perkins - underlined the growing frustration Latics were feeling at the way things were going
And captain Craig Morgan had to be alert to intercept a dangerous-looking left-wing cross from Inman.
Wildschut showed his pace and his class on the hour mark to weave his way into the area, only to be denied by Garratt with his initial shot and then subsequent header from the rebound.
Vuckic fired straight at the goalkeeper from a good position, and that was his last involvement as he was hooked along with Hiwula for Craig Davies and fit-again Will Grigg with 20 minutes to go.
Wildschut ought to have done better with a header from a Power corner that landed on the roof of the net from point-blank range.
And Perkins might have been advised to put his foot through the ball when Davies had played him in superbly, only for the midfielder to fail to find Grigg with a difficult pull-back.
At the other end, Crewe remained a threat on the break, and Marcus Haber was very close to getting on the end of a teasing cross from Jon Guthrie.
Both sides had feeble claims for penalties turned down when Wigan’s Davies and Crewe’s Colclough fell to ground under little or no contact.
There was to be one more chance for Latics in stoppage-time.
But Power’s 25-yard strike flew into the grateful arms of Garratt rather than either corner of the net, and honours ended even.