WIGAN Athletic were left clinging to their Championship status by a thread after their must-win six-pointer at relegation rivals Millwall descended into first fury and then farce.
Latics ended the game with nine men following the second-half dismissals of Martyn Waghorn and Jason Pearce for straight red cards.
Waghorn was sent off on the hour mark - just nine minutes after coming off the bench - for kicking out at grounded Lions defender Dan Harding.
Millwall took full advantage of their one-man advantage to edge in front through Nadjim Abdou’s bullet header 16 minutes from time.
Wigan’s cause wasn’t helped when Pearce followed Waghorn down the tunnel for a full-blooded lunge on Aiden O’Brien that referee Steve Martin didn’t see the funny side of.
The challenge prompted Millwall’s Ed Upson to race over and put his hand in the face of Pearce, which saw him also receive his marching orders from the official.
With Latics going all-out for a late leveller, it was no surprise when they were picked off on the break, Magaye Gueye rifling past Scott Carson and into the bottom corner.
It could have been so different had Latics managed to convert one of three gilt-edged opportunities to take the lead, but Marc-Antoine Fortune and Pearce fluffed free headers while Gaetan Bong blazed over from a great position.
The result leaves Gary Caldwell’s men seven points adrift of safety with only three matches to go and, even with Rotherham facing a likely three-point deduction, it looks a thoroughly lost cause.