Wigan Athletic 2 Nottingham Forest 2
For the second Saturday in succession, a stoppage-time goal robbed Wigan Athletic of precious points their encouraging display had more than deserved.
While Aston Villa’s late winner last weekend cost Latics a point, this time they saw two slip away as Nottingham Forest substitute Hillal Soudani stabbed home from close range after Christian Walton had saved Lewis Grabban’s penalty.
The penalty had been awarded after Latics skipper Sam Morsy tripped Matty Cash, who had earlier come up with Forest’s first equaliser on the 10-minute mark.
That strike had sandwiched Nick Powell’s opening goal inside two minutes, and Will Grigg’s emphatic spot-kick after the striker had been hauled to the deck by Ben Osborn.
Latics had chances to kill the game when 2-1 up, Morsy hitting the post from distance before Powell steered the follow-up just wide of the other upright.
But Forest remained a threat on the counter and, after soaking up all Latics could throw at them, pinched a point right at the death.
Wigan’s total of four points from their opening three games in no way reflects the hugely positive way they have attacked the campaign right from the off.
But at the same time, boss Paul Cook will be delighted with the way his men have handled the step up in class, and have not shown an ounce of fright at mixing it with the big boys.
Cook had barely had time to take his place on the bench when Latics took the lead.
Some determined pressing from Powell forced Forest to concede an unnecessary corner with only 10 seconds gone.
Forest’s unease was shown as goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon refused to give Powell the ball to take the corner, which temporarily brought in players from both sides to exchange handbags.
The ball eventually found its way to Lee Evans by the corner flag, and his pinpoint delivery was missed by Pantilimon and nodded home by Powell, who made sure the goalkeeper was well aware of who’d got the final touch.
Latics were almost in again moments later, Grigg being denied by the goalkeeper this time, as Forest were wondering what had hit them.
However, after stemming the bleeding, the visitors were level with only 10 minutes gone.
Morsy’s mistake in midfield allowed Forest to break, and Cash fired home past Walton with a cool finish into the bottom corner.
The rest of the half was all Latics, and Forest would have been delighted to go in to the break only one goal behind.
Powell nodded over from another Evans set-piece delivery, before directing another header just wide of the post.
Michael Jacobs then tried his luck from 25 yards, the ball catching a deflection and finding the side-netting rather than the back of the net.
And Grigg thought he’d found his first goal of the season when he stretched to meet a Reece James cross, only for the ball to roll half a yard wide.
The Forest defence weren’t quite so lucky on the half-hour mark, when Osborn manhandled the Northern Ireland striker as he tried to reach a cross from Antonee Robinson.
It was a stonewall penalty, and Grigg waited for Pantilimon to commit himself before smashing the ball down the middle of the goal.
It could and perhaps should have been 3-1 seven minutes before the interval, only for Morsy’s daisy-cutter to beat Pantilimon but not the post, and Powell to fail to locate the opposite corner of the goal.
The Latics fans were on their feet seconds before the break, with FA Cup hero Ben Watson taking over from the injured Adlene Guedoura in the Forest engine room.
Forest looked a lot more solid unit with Watson on the field, and Cash must have fancied himself to level the scores before Evans came out of nowhere to produce a fabulous block.
At the other end, a lovely move involving Morsy and Grigg saw Robinson race into the area, only to see his shot deflected wide.
The resulting corner from Evans found Chey Dunkley, whose header was easily collected by Pantilimon.
Latics made a double change with 15 minutes to go, sending on the fresh legs of Callum Connolly and James Vaughan for goalscorers Grigg and Powell, who both received standing ovations, and well deserved too.
Nathan Byrne replaced Gavin Massey with two minutes to go, but Latics were narrowly unable to see out the game, with Cash winning the penalty and Soudani providing the sucker punch.