Wanderers still sit just four points above Bradford City and Fleetwood Town in League One, as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at Boundary Park to a belligerent Oldham Athletic.
The Whites started brightly, however were unable to craft many chances of note as the game became increasingly scrappy. When the half time whistle went, both Phil Parkinson and John Sheridan had work to do: for all the huff and puff of a local (ish) derby, neither side created much of note.
In the second half, both sides pushed further forward, with Filipe Morais going close for Whites, with Connor Ripley in fine form for the Latics.
The game came to life when Michael Ngoo received a second yellow card for a foul on Darren Pratley with 25 minutes to play.
Anyone hoping for a Wanderers winner as a result of the red card would be disappointed, however. Just 10 minutes after the Oldham red, Mark Howard punched a cross at Jay Spearing. Though initial reports attributed Spearing with an own goal, the effort was later awarded to Lee Erwin.
Wanderers pressed for an equaliser in the later stages, but came up against a resolute Oldham defence. With Anthony Gerrard missing through a late injury, Peter Clarke and Ryan McLaughlin were in fine form.
When Oldham's defence failed them, the woodwork worked in the home side's favour. Wanderers hit the bar twice through Adam Le Fondre and substitute Chris Long.
Phil Parkinson pushed for the win, bringing on Long, Max Clayton and James Henry. Two efforts were scrambled off the line, and Adam Le Fondre missed a chipped opportunity to the far post as the minutes ticked away.
Despite the five minutes of additional time, Oldham held on for a 1-0 home victory, and almost certain League One status next season. For Bolton, the promotion race is well and truly back on in time for Bury's visit on Tuesday night.
We've never done things the easy way at Wanderers, and it appears so once more as we approach the end of the season. Fleetwood host Millwall on Easter Monday, whereas Bradford City face a trip to newly crowned champions Sheffield United. Let's hope for a couple of favours before Tuesday's visit of the Shakers.