Another new formation, another defeat - it was a familiar story for Leeds United at Wigan even if they were not disgraced in losing 1-0 to the likely Sky Bet Championship play-off team.
A single goal on 33 minutes by Martin Waghorn proved enough to give cup semi-finalists Wigan a victory in a drab game that failed to catch fire.
Leeds were unlucky to lose this one after forcing their opponents back for most of the second half, but they did not create enough clear chances for all their possession and are still in need of a few points if they are to be safe from relegation.
Manager Brian McDermott was pleased with the way his side competed against opponents 10 places higher in the league.
He said: “The important thing is to stay in the game in this league and we did that, there was nothing between these two sides at all.
“We have not stayed in games recently, so today was an important experience.
“Wigan will be a force to reckon with, but we kept our shape and we have to move on positively for the next game.”
McDermott sprung another of his surprise selections after going for a new 3-4-1-2 tactic with Matt Smith and Noel Hunt up front and Ross McCormack playing in behind them.
It worked in stifling Wigan to some extent, but Leeds failed to trouble home keeper Ali Al Habsi in the opening 45 minutes.
The hosts were not much better and could have been down to 10 men in the opening minutes when James Perch elbowed Stephen Warnock in an aerial challenge only to be yellow carded instead of shown red.
Wigan did go close twice through Perch with a header and Jordi Gomez’s long-range strike.
They took the lead out of the blue in the 33rd minute when Waghorn’s low shot from the edge of the box found the net with United’s on-loan keeper Jack Butland only getting a weak hand to the ball when he should have done better.
Wigan started the second half confidently as Perch’s shot was deflected over by Warnock and Waghorn’s free-kick went just over.
But they were then pushed back for the remainder of the game and United finally began to create something up front.
Sam Byram shot over from the angle of the box, Smith headed over and Michael Tonge gave Al Habsi his first save with a 25-yard shot that was deflected.
Butland saved easily from James McLean’s shot and Tom Lees headed over from a free-kick before Leeds came closest to their elusive goal when Smith found McCormack on the edge of the box and the Scottish international was unlucky to see his deft lob land just wide.
The Whites had one more chance when Jason Pearce headed over from a Warnock corner, but it was not to be and the big travelling contingent was left to reflect on more money wasted in their support of this team.
Wigan Athletic 1
Leeds United 0
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Sky Bet Championship
Wigan: Al Habsi, Boyce, Ramis, Kiernan, Perch, McArthur, Gomez, Crainey, McManaman (McLean 62), Powell (Collison 55), Waghorn (Fortune 67).
Leeds: Butland, Lees, Wootton, Pearce, Byram, Tonge, Brown, Warnock, McCormack, Hunt (Poleon 69), Smith.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick