In a game of two halves Latics narrowly overcame League One strugglers Northampton Town 1-0 at the Sixfields Stadium.
Latics went ahead after only five minutes through leading scorer Nick Powell and had opportunities to increase their lead in the first half.
The Cobblers were dangerous on the break and might have drawn level when Daniel Powell slalomed his way through the Latics defence and produced an inviting cross into the six yard box but Reece James made a last ditch clearance to deny the two on-rushing strikers.
In the second half Latics couldn’t build any momentum and it was the home team that looked the more threatening as the game progressed.
Latics’ forwards had an off-day, but at least the defence held strong to maintain their two point lead at the top of the table.
Paul Cook made only one change from the draw at Charlton Athletic, with Reece James replacing Callum Elder at left back.
The Cobblers Shaun McWilliams forced an early save from Walton, but Latics went ahead after five minutes when Nathan Byrne’s pinpoint cross found Powell who headed home at the near post.
Latics were on top for most of the half and they went close when Brendan Moloney’s late challenge denied Will Grigg and Chey Dunkley’s powerful header crashed against the crossbar from a corner.
Reece James made an important last ditch intervention just before the interval when he cleared Daniel Powell’s cross. A portent of things to come in the second half.
After the interval Chris Long threatened an early equaliser when shooting just wide of Christian Walton’s far post.
Latics had an opportunity soon afterwards when Jacobs crossed for Grigg, but the striker headed just over the crossbar.
But it was Northampton who were building momentum as Latics failed exert their expected quality.
Many players looked jaded and the forward players in particular looked incapable of going past their opponents. Maybe the Christmas period of games had taken its toll but Latics were struggling to hold on against a team in the bottom three.
Moloney fired over the crossbar and Sam Foley’s header from the centre of the box was narrowly wide of the target.
Ivan Toney forced a save from Matt Ingram from a free-kick and Lee Evans had a chance for Latics but his effort was deflected away.
The Cobblers continued to press in the dying minutes but the Latics defence held firm to extend their unbeaten run to ten games and secure their sixth clean sheet in a row.