A last minute strike from summer transfer target Leon Barnett robbed Rovers of a famous win over FA Cup holders Wigan.
Rovers stunned their hosts to carry a two goal lead into the break but could not hold on in the face of intense second half pressure from the promotion favourites. A second goal in two games from Theo Robinson plus a Chris Brown header had put Rovers in dreamland at the DW Stadium.
But a pinpoint Shaun Maloney freekick brought Wigan back into the game, setting the stage for the late hammer-blow from Barnett, who Rovers expressed genuine interest in earlier this month.
Being pegged back will have been a bitter pill for Paul Dickov’s men to swallow. But the manner in which they troubled one of the division’s quality sides will only boost the confidence Dickov has instilled in the camp. Rovers had attacked with real ferocity and pace, pressed superbly from front to back and threw themselves in front of everything Wigan had to throw at them after the break. But the onslaught from Owen Coyle’s men was just too strong.
Wigan had enjoyed most of the possession in the first half but failed to take advantage. Ross Turnbull who produced a series of superb stops to deny Grant Holt, Chris McCann and Emmerson Boyce.
There was a real threat from Rovers who broke forward at pace. Their opening goal on 24 minutes was finished superbly by Robinson. Turnbull punted long, Brown played in Robinson who turned under pressure from Barnett and drilled in low at Scott Carson’s near post.
To their immense credit, Rovers did not retreat into themselves after taking the lead and continued to push forward.
Wigan were well and truly stunned two minutes from the break when Rovers netted again.
Bongani Khumalo battled to keep possession against Holt and whipped in a deep cross which Rob Jones headed back for Brown to nod home.
Rovers emerged with real attacking intent early in the second half and could have extended their lead when Khumalo headed on to the bar.
But Wigan began to pile on the pressure and got their lifeline on 57 minutes. Jones hacked down former Rovers loanee Marc-Antoine Fortune and Maloney stepped up to curl a brilliant free kick past Turnbull.
Rovers defended for their lives with Reece Wabara, Jones and particularly Khumalo throwing themselves in front of shots.
But the pressure finally told in the last minute.
Fortune drilled from the byline and Barnett smashed high into the net from ten yards.
Amazingly, Rovers could have won the game in added time but substitute Billy Paynter could only head off the bar.
Wigan: Carson, Boyce, Perch, Barnett, Crainey, McCarthy, Watson (Fortune h-t), McClean, McCann (Gomez 81), Maloney, Holt.
Subs: Nicholls, McArthur, Espinoza, Beausejour, Dicko.
Rovers: Turnbull, Wabara (Paynter 90), Khumalo, Jones, Husband, Cotterill, Keegan, Wellens (Furman 51), Coppinger (Quinn 76), Robinson, Brown.
Subs: Maxted, McCullough, Syers, Duffy.
Ref: Carl Boyeson, East Yorks.