Match ends, Cardiff City 2, Wigan Athletic 2.
Cardiff City 2-2 Wigan Athletic
Cardiff City closed the gap on the Championship play-off places despite being held to a draw in an eventful home encounter with relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic.
A frenetic start to the game saw Wales striker Kieffer Moore back-heel Wigan in front, only for Josh Murphy's half-volley to bring the home side level less than three minutes later.
Moore restored the Latics' lead on the cusp of half-time with a penalty after Curtis Nelson blocked a shot with his arm - but again their advantage did not last long as Kal Naismith deflected a shot by Marlon Pack into his own net.
Cardiff looked the likeliest to snatch a late winner as they put their opponents under pressure with a series of corners and long throws but they could not find a way through, with Albert Adomah's blocked shot and Danny Ward's volley over the bar the closest they came.
The Bluebirds even had the ball in the net in injury time but Sean Morrison's header was disallowed for a foul on Wigan goalkeeper David Marshall.
Despite failing to find that elusive goal and dropping down a place to ninth in the Championship, Cardiff are now a point closer to the play-offs, three adrift of the top six.
Wigan remain 22nd but this result brings them within three points of safety.
This was a match which was always likely to have ramifications at both ends of the table.
Cardiff had won back-to-back away matches and had hopes of moving within a point of the play-off places if they won here with other results going their way, with manager Neil Harris suggesting rivals would come to "fear" his side if they extended their six-game unbeaten run in the league.
Wigan were still deep in the relegation mire but had boosted their survival chances with two wins from their past three away matches - more than they had managed in their previous 34 league fixtures on the road.
Paul Cook's men looked like continuing that resurgence when they took an early lead at Cardiff City Stadium, as Wales striker Moore took advantage of some slack defending from a short corner to apply a deft flicked finish to Sam Morsy's low cross.
Wigan were ahead for less than three minutes, as Will Vaulks' long throw was nodded on by Morrison and fell to Murphy, who swivelled on the spot to score with a smart half-volley.
All this happened within the opening eight minutes, and there might have been more drama just a few seconds after kick-off when Vaulks was hurt by a dangerous, ankle-high tackle from his Wales team-mate Lee Evans, who had his studs up and was perhaps a little fortunate to receive a yellow rather than a red card.
This was an archetypal Championship encounter; attacking intent from both sides, a physical edge which spilled over on occasion and a host of missed chances.
Most of those belonged to the home side, with free-kicks by Lee Tomlin and Vaulks drawing saves from former Cardiff goalkeeper Marshall, who also thwarted Adomah.
Yet despite creating several opportunities, the Bluebirds fell behind again in first-half added time.
Nelson slid in to block Morsy's shot from the edge of the box and referee John Brooks judged that he had done so with his arm and awarded a penalty, which Moore confidently converted by sending Alex Smithies the wrong way.
The second half followed the same, incident-packed pattern as the first, with Nelson heading over for the hosts before Jamal Lowe wasted a decent opening for Wigan by shooting tamely at Smithies.
Cardiff equalised in familiar fashion, a Vaulks long throw only half-cleared and falling to Pack, whose shot took a big deflection off Naismith on its way in.
Neil Harris' side sensed that set-pieces were their most potent weapon, and they had a flurry of corners and long throws which caused their opponents problems.
Adomah had a penalty appeal for handball turned down when his shot was blocked by Cedric Kipre and, after Ward blazed his volley over, time looked to have run out for Cardiff.
But they still had time for one more chance, Morrison bundling in from close range as Marshall failed to gather.
However, the cries of celebration from the home crowd turned to boos for referee Brooks as he disallowed the goal and capped a frustrating afternoon for Cardiff.
Cardiff City manager Neil Harris: "We're frustrated four big decisions didn't go our way.
"It was a game we fully deserved to win, we had the much better chances.
"It was a sucker punch at the end which has deflated a really good week for us - seven points but it should have been nine."
Wigan Athletic manager Paul Cook: "I thought it was a fair result, but Cardiff may have felt aggrieved because of the last decision.
"The game huffed and puffed without ever getting going, but it's been a long week for both sides.
"I'm delighted for Keiffer. To come down to Cardiff and score two goals and play really well in the game, he can be really pleased.
"We just keep going and believing in what we do. If we win games, we will stay in this division. It's that simple."
- 4MorrisonBooked at 75mins
- 3BennettSubstituted forBacunaat 45'minutes
- 6VaulksBooked at 80mins
- 11MurphyBooked at 25minsSubstituted forHoilettat 75'minutes
- 13PatersonSubstituted forWardat 75'minutes
- 20WilliamsBooked at 31mins
- 8EvansBooked at 1minsSubstituted forGelhardtat 65'minutesBooked at 82mins
- 9LoweSubstituted forJacobsat 86'minutes
- 11MasseySubstituted forPilkingtonat 65'minutes
- John Brooks
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Cardiff City 2, Wigan Athletic 2.
David Marshall (Wigan Athletic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Lee Tomlin (Cardiff City).
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Nathan Byrne.
Attempt missed. Lee Tomlin (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Will Vaulks.
Nathan Byrne (Wigan Athletic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Lee Tomlin (Cardiff City).
Attempt missed. Danny Ward (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Sean Morrison with a headed pass.
Foul by Anthony Pilkington (Wigan Athletic).
Will Vaulks (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Anthony Pilkington (Wigan Athletic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Corner, Wigan Athletic. Conceded by Leandro Bacuna.
Substitution, Wigan Athletic. Michael Jacobs replaces Jamal Lowe.
Attempt missed. David Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right following a corner.
Attempt blocked. Albert Adomah (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Jamal Lowe.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Cedric Kipre.
Leon Balogun (Wigan Athletic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Marlon Pack (Cardiff City).
Attempt blocked. Lee Tomlin (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.
Joe Gelhardt (Wigan Athletic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Joe Gelhardt (Wigan Athletic).
Lee Tomlin (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Wigan Athletic. Conceded by Will Vaulks.
Will Vaulks (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Joe Williams (Wigan Athletic) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Will Vaulks (Cardiff City).
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Sam Morsy.
Attempt blocked. David Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Danny Ward (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Marlon Pack with a cross.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Cedric Kipre.
Substitution, Cardiff City. David Junior Hoilett replaces Josh Murphy.
Substitution, Cardiff City. Danny Ward replaces Callum Paterson.
Sean Morrison (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Kieffer Moore (Wigan Athletic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Sean Morrison (Cardiff City).
Corner, Wigan Athletic. Conceded by Alex Smithies.
Attempt saved. Kal Naismith (Wigan Athletic) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Anthony Pilkington.
Corner, Wigan Athletic. Conceded by Curtis Nelson.