Paul Cook: 'I feel physically sick...we feel we've let the Wigan Athletic supporters down...but we did everything we could'
Despite being the form side in the second tier since the turn of the year, Latics were unable to force a late winner, after Kieffer Moore's first-half goal was cancelled out by Neeskens Kebano.
And with their 12-point deduction - which has been appealed - for being placed in administration earlier this month, they now need the help of David Phillips QC to avoid a return to League One.
"Where do you start? Where do you start?" the Latics boss said.
"I don't want to speak for long because, as you can imagine, the emotions are running high.
"I've just got to say how proud I am of the players, I really am.
"Even to the 95th, 96th minute, the energy and the desire and the will to win for those supporters sitting at home.
"We've felt all their positive energy through the last few weeks.
"Unfortunately we're going to feel like we let them down tonight, that's the way it's going to be.
"But there's nothing you can do about it.
"I think that's one game in the last 15 we've lost - at Brentford - and we're relegated."
Remarkably, Cook even paused to congratulate the night's winners in the Championship.
"Special mention for Barnsley and Luton who have stayed up in an absolutely unbelievable way, credit to the players and the staff.
"We've just got to keep hold of our dignity at the moment, because it is painful."
It might have been all so different, had Latics not fallen foul of a hat-trick of tough calls from referee John Brooks.
In the first half, Wales striker Moore saw a goal chalked off for borderline offside, before being seemingly manhandled in the box, only for the official to wave play on.
And then, at the beginning of the second period, Joe Williams was penalised for a nothing challenge on the edge of the Latics box, which allowed Kebano to curl a brilliant free-kick past David Marshall and into the top corner.
"We've not been getting the rub of the green off referees, that's for sure," acknowledged Cook.
"Saturday at Charlton, the same again tonight. But it's not a night for criticising referees.
"I don't want to do anything but thank our supporters for everything they've done.
"To raise the amount of money they have, to pay for coaches and pay for hotels for the players to travel in.
"At a time when people - Wigan people - are struggling themselves for money, it's just incredible.
"I feel physically sick for them all...and I haven't really got a message for them.
"I can't really find anything to say about the situation.
"We just feel we've let them down, but the team and everybody have done everything they could.
"We created chances continuously in that second half, we just needed one of them to drop.
"Unfortunately one didn't."