Wigan Athletic 0 Cardiff 0

Nick Powell
Nick Powell

Nick Powell for once couldn’t save the day as Wigan Athletic failed to finish off Cardiff - a result which all-but rubber-stamped their relegation to League One.

Latics may have dodged an immediate bullet with Birmingham’s inability to get anything out of the second city derby against Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon.

But their fate will surely be determined next weekend, at play-off chasing Reading, with only a miraculous series of results - including Blackburn as well - able to save them.

And Latics can have few complaints after a performance and a result that pretty much summed up the car-crash campaign.

Opponents Cardiff - having secured their own safety several weeks ago - had very little to play for, and offered very little in the way of an attacking threat.

Despite having their collective futures on the line, the Latics players couldn’t produce that one moment of quality that could turn things their way.

Not even the introduction just before the hour mark of Powell and fellow ex-Crewe man Ryan Colclough could change the game.

Colclough had Wigan’s best chance 10 minutes from time, although his near-post effort was well snaffled by Ben Amos in the Cardiff goal.

Latics were left to reflect on the first-half incident that saw Shaun MacDonald tripped inside the box for what looked to be a penalty, only for referee Oliver Langford to wave play on.

Even though Cardiff were second best for the majority, the Welsh side probably came closest to breaking the deadlock - with each of their only two sights at goal.

Craig Noone might have done better when he played an inadvertent one-two with David Perkins, only to smash his shot against the bar from a tight angle in the first half.

After the break, the Bluebirds came close again when Aron Gunnarssson’s flick header floated inches wide of the far post - and also, agonisingly, just in front of the outstretched leg of Bruno Manga.

But Latics were left counting the cost of a failure to make the most of a bright start when they really took the game to their opponents.

Craig Morgan might have done better when he met Jamie Hanson’s corner on 12 minutes, only to direct his header wide of the mark.

Latics were screaming for a penalty moments later when MacDonald went charging into the box off a clever flick from Gabriel Obertan and appeared to be clipped by a defender, only for the official to wave away the claim.

Ryan Tunnicliffe was showing some nice touches down the left, and one dangerous cross had to be diverted behind for a corner by a desperate defender.

Latics almost broke through just before the 20-minute mark when Morgan again did well to meet a Hanson set-piece, only to see the ball strike the far post - although the whistle had gone in any case for a foul.

Reece Burke - back in the side after four-and-a-half months out with a hip problem - was showing up nicely at right-back, and he advanced to the edge of the area before sending a left-foot shot wide of the post.

Morgan then had his third chance of the first half as the interval approached, only to stab over after good work from Michael Jacobs.

Despite playing a supporting role for virtually the entire first half, the Bluebirds almost took the lead just before the whistle, when a mistake from Perkins allowed Noone a clear sight at goal.

However, from a tight angle, the midfielder could only fire against the bar, with the recalled Matt Gilks a relieved man.

Perkins almost made amends within seconds of the restart, only to send a curling effort just wide of the upright.

Interim boss Graham Barrow made a double change just before the hour mark, sending on Powell and Colclough for Obertan and Hanson.

And the move almost reaped immediate dividends, with Tunnicliffe releasing Burke, whose cross was only just too high for Jacobs.

From the resultant corner, Powell’s shot was blocked before the rebound fell to Burn, who also fired against a visiting leg.

As Latics pushed forward in search of a leveller, they were leaving gaps at the back for Cardiff to exploit.

And the Bluebirds almost took advantage, only for Gunnarsson’s header to drift just wide of the far post.

Latics went all-in for the last 10 minutes with Perkins allowing Alex Bruce to make his debut - the 41st player to appear for Latics this term - with Burn becoming an emergency centre-forward for the remainder.

But aside from a Colclough shot that Amos dealt with comfortably, Latics were unable to force the goal that would have kept their campaign alive.