Blues’ hopes of escaping relegation were dealt a major blow by promotion-chasing Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night.
The only goal of the game was scored by the Latics’ Callum McManaman with less than three minutes on the clock.
There were three changes to the Blues starting XI. Hayden Mullins, Scott Allan and Federico Macheda were brought in for Tom Thorpe, Callum Reilly and Nikola Zigic respectively.
Blues made a terrible start to the contest as they found themselves a goal behind after Wigan’s first attack. McManaman collected the ball on the left hand side of the Blues area before cutting inside and curling his shot past an unsighted Darren Randolph and into the far corner of the net.
It took until the 29th minute for Blues to fashion their first opening. A neat piece of play saw the ball reach Emyr Huws on the right. Huws took a step inside before letting fly with a curling effort that was bound for the top corner of the net, until Wigan keeper Scott Carson produced a brilliant diving save to tip the ball behind.
A minute into stoppage time at the end of the first-half, Wigan won a free-kick in a dangerous position just outside the box. Jodi Gomez whipped a dangerous dead ball deep into the Blues area, but Randolph did well to push the ball away.
In an attempt to give his side more of an attacking threat, Clark made a change at the break when he sent on Nikola Zigic for Lee Novak. With Zigic up alongside Macheda, Blues began to pose more of an attacking threat and they were certainly being urged on by a passionate St. Andrew’s crowd.
Blues made a second change to their personnel on the hour-mark when Liverpool loanee Jordon Ibe replaced Allan.
Although Blues were playing more of the game in the Wigan half of the pitch they were struggling to unlock the visitors’ defence or indeed force Carson into making any saves.
With 75 minutes gone Huws tried his luck with a powerful long-distance volley which flew just a yard over the bar.
Wigan were now increasingly playing deeper and looking to waste time as often as they could as they sought to run down the clock.
In a last throw of the dice Andy Shinnie became Blues’ third substitution of the evening as he replaced Adeyemi.
But it failed to pay dividends as Blues were unable to get on the scoresheet and suffered a narrow loss.
Lee Clark’s side now have one final opportunity to secure their Sky Bet Championship on Saturday when they travel up to Bolton Wanderers backed by more than 3,500 fans. Alas they will still be relying on results elsewhere going in their favour, even if they manage a draw or win against the Trotters.