Joe Garner's four-goal haul helped second-placed Preston North End record a seventh win in eight Sky Bet League 1 fixtures as they saw off Crewe Alexandra 5-1 at Deepdale.The striker took his tally to 20 in 30 games this season with a double in either half as in-form North End swept aside Crewe, for whom Ollie Turton scored in the first half.
Jermaine Beckford completed the rout and the Lilywhites moved 11 points off the top following leaders Bristol City's 0-0 draw with Gillingham.
Lee Johnson experienced a happy return to Oldham as Barnsley's 3-1 win at SportsDirect.com Park moved them into the Play-Off spots.
The 33-year-old left the Latics 17 days ago and maintained his 100 per cent record since taking charge of the Tykes as Lewin Nyatanga's brace, either side of Conor Hourihane's fortuitous effort and Mike Jones' goal for the hosts, moved Barnsley into the top six on goals scored.
To add to Latics' misery, club captain Adam Lockwood was dismissed in stoppage time.
Peterborough United were kept out of the Play-Off spots as a result, despite strikes from Luke James and Conor Washington giving them a 2 -0 triumph at Doncaster Rovers.
Fleetwood Town are two points behind Posh following a 1-0 victory over Rochdale which was secured by Josh Morris' 59th-minute effort.
At the other end of the table, Tony Mowbray's first three points in the Coventry City hot-seat helped them stay above the relegation zone as they defeated Chesterfield 3-2 away from home.
Marcus Tudgay, Sanmi Odelusi and Frank Nouble all found the back of the net for the visitors, with James O'Shea and Gboly Ariyibi scoring in a losing cause.
Leyton Orient remain two points adrift of 20th place despite recording a 3-0 victory over Yeovil Town, who are still propping up the table.
Chris Dagnall and Ryan Hedges struck inside the opening seven minutes and Jobi McAnuff added a third to leave the Glovers further adrift of safety.
Izale McLeod's penalty settled a five-goal thriller between struggling Crawley Town and Colchester United, who were beaten 3-2 at home.
Sammie Szmodics and David Fox had struck for the hosts but McLeod kept his composure from 12 yards out to add to goals from Ryan Dickson and Gavin Tomlin.
A header from Notts County's Mike Edwards cancelled out Jon Stead's strike and ensured Bradford warmed up for their FA Cup quarter-final replay with Reading in two days' time with a 1-1 draw.
Branco's eighth-minute opener meant Swindon Towm kept on Preston's coat-tails as a 1-0 Robins success at Port Vale kept Mark Cooper's side two points behind North End.
Elsewhere, Scunthorpe United and Sheffield United drew 1-1 as Kieron Freeman cancelled out Neal Bishop's opener, while Walsall and MK Dons produced the same scoreline with Tom Bradshaw and Will Grigg scoring for their respective teams.