Birmingham City edged closer to the Championship trap door as their long season of frustration at St Andrew's reached a predictably bitter end against Wigan Athletic.
Despite the backing of a 20,427 crowd – their second highest of the season – Lee Clark's side succumbed to a fifth straight home defeat as Callum McManaman's early goal lifted Wigan Athletic into fifth place above Reading and cemented their play-off berth.
It was Wigan's first win at St Andrew's and leaves them two games away from a fifth visit to Wembley in a year. For Birmingham by contrast, memories of winning the League Cup at Wembley in 2011 feel a long time ago now. They now stand on the verge of falling into the third tier for the first time since 1995.
They sit third bottom of the Championship, a point behind Doncaster – who visit Leicester on Saturday – and two behind Millwall, and the only blessing is that their final match is at Bolton, rather than St Andrew's. After all, this was their 16th home league match without a victory.
The lone cry of "bollocks" when the stadium announcer revealed there would be two minutes of first-half stoppage time, seemed a fair summary of a desperate first period on a night when nerves got to both sides resulting in pass after pass going astray.
In the case of Wigan, they could at least point to the fact this was their 59th game of a long campaign which has featured 14 cup ties at home and in Europe. Fatigue seemed to have got the better of Uwe Rösler's men when losing three of their previous four Championship fixtures but they had the perfect fillip with McManaman's third-minute strike. Jordi Gomez brought the ball forward and slid a pass to McManaman who stepped in from the left side of the penalty box and found the far corner with a low shot.
The only response from a blunt Birmingham side came with a curling shot by Emyr Huws, the young midfielder on loan from Manchester City, that Scott Carson kept out of the top corner.
At half-time, Clarke threw on Nikola Zigic who decided to stick around when it turned out his rumoured £70,000 a week contract had no relegation clause. The big Serbian's goal threat was confined to a tame header at Scott Carson. The goalkeeper also kept out Hayden Mullins' low drive as Birmingham upped the pressure at the end but for Wigan, it was job done. Birmingham still have it all to do.
Birmingham City (4-2-3-1): Randolph; Caddis, Spector, Mullins, Hancox; Huws, Adeyemi (Shinnie, 83); Burke, Allan (Ibe, 60) Novak, (Zigic, h-t) Macheda. Substitutes not used Doyle (gk), Martin, Reilly, Gray.
Wigan Athletic (3-4-1-2): Carson; Boyce, Caldwell, Kiernan; Perch, Gomez, McArthur, Beausejour; Maloney (Barnett, 90); Waghorn (Fortune, 61), McManaman (Maynard, 84). Substitutes not used Al Habsi (gk), Espinoza, Crainey, Collison.
Referee A Woolmer (Northamptonshire).Reuse content