After a 90-minute stalemate, two goals in stoppage time gave this contest a dramatic finish in contrast with what had gone before, although a point was not enough to keep Wigan at the top of the First Division table, as Sheffield United edged in front on goal difference.
Inconsistent Coventry, who had been at least worthy of a share of the spoils after matching Paul Jewell's upwardly mobile side in every department, believed they had done enough to win as Andy Morrell put them ahead against a Wigan side reduced to 10 men by the dismissal of left-back Peter Kennedy in the final 10 minutes.
Wigan back Matt Jackson had a head-in-hands moment when he was caught in possession by Coventry's player-manager, Gary McAllister. Then Claus Jorgensen's shot was pushed out by goalkeeper John Filan, only to be bundled over the line by Morrell.
But Jackson was able to redeem himself immediately when Coventry's 22-year-old goalkeeper, Scott Shearer, a summer signing from Scottish Third Division side Albion Rovers, committed a blunder even more horrific, spilling a shot from Neil Roberts and watching helplessly as Jackson pounced on the loose ball to seize an unexpected point.
It was a body blow for McAllister and his side, who were ready to celebrate a third win in four matches this month after failing to win one during August.
"To lose a goal like that in the fourth minute of injury time is a bit hard to take, but I'm not going to blame Scott, who has done really well to establish himself in the side so quickly when you consider where he has come from," McAllister said.
"It was just one of those things. He thought he had fielded the shot and was looking to throw it out but it just squirmed out of his hands."
The draw ended a run of six consecutive wins by Jewell's Second Division champions, although the Wigan manager was relieved to have escaped defeat. "To be honest, we had never really looked like scoring, so this is a point gained," he said. "People have started thinking we are going to blow sides away at this level, but it is not going to happen. It was not pretty, we did not play well, so we'll take a point happily."
In a half of few clear chances, Wigan's best came after 18 minutes, sparking debate over whether their £1m striker Geoff Horsfield had been unlucky or wasteful as he hit the frame twice within little more than a second. Having turned Andy Liddell's pass towards goal only for it to strike the right-hand post, he looked sure to give Wigan the lead when the ball rebounded to his feet, but he somehow managed to thump it against the underside of the bar.
Horsfield and strike partner Nathan Ellington always demanded close attention, and for the most part they were well policed by Mo Konjic and Richard Shaw, although Ellington gave the home side another anxious moment after 25 minutes, sending a dipping free-kick over the Coventry wall from 30 yards and almost catching out Shearer.
Only after that scare did Coventry begin to pose some threat of their own, prompted by McAllister's urgent demands that they pay their opponents a little less respect and play higher up the pitch.
Nonetheless, the further the contest progressed, the more it seemed the sides were too closely balanced to produce a winner, even after Kennedy, booked for a foul on Graham Barrett, was sent off after committing a second offence against the same player, leaving Wigan to negotiate the last eight minutes with 10 men.
Coventry City 1
Wigan Athletic 1
Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 14,862
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