Wigan Athletic strengthened their position at the top of the table with an emphatic 2-0 victory against in-form Gillingham at the DW Stadium.
The 2-0 scoreline didn’t fully reflect Latics’ dominance against a team who had won six and drawn two of their last eight games.
Latics went ahead after only 10 minutes when Reece James’ low cross was nonchalantly finished by Will Grigg inside the six-yard box for his 50th goal for the club.
In-demand midfielder Nick Powell added a second after 34 minutes when he rose to head home Max Power’s corner as Latics assumed complete control.
The Gills surprisingly offered little going forward although Tom Eaves had a rare effort on goal when his flicked effort came back off the post.
Latics should have increased their lead in the second half after creating several good opportunities, and they went closest when Michael Jacobs’ low drive came off the inside of the post before the ball ran agonisingly across the six-yard box.
The Gills might have had a consolation near the end of the game when Elliot List headed past Christian Walton but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Wigan moved two points clear of second placed Shrewsbury at the top while Blackburn slipped to third place after losing at Plymouth.
Paul Cook made two changes to his side which had knocked West Ham out of the FA Cup, with left back Reece James and Ryan Colclough replacing Callum Elder and Gavin Massey.
After rejecting a £10m move to Brighton in midweek the mercurial Powell was the centre of attention and was soon showing the type of skill that had attracted the interest of four Premier League clubs.
He was once again instrumental in most of Latics’ best moves. First he played a neat one-two with Jacobs but was denied an effort on goal by a last-ditch tackle. Then after making space for himself, his dipping effort from 20-yards out was just over the crossbar.
Powell was then involved in the first goal when his flighted cross into the area was headed out only as far as James and the full-back’s low cross found Grigg to score his 50th goal for Latics from close range.
The Gills were struggling to contain Latics, but in a rare break out of defence Eaves saw his flicked effort come back off Walton’s post.
Latics continued to have the Lion’s share of possession and they went close twice again through Powell before Jacobs dragged a shot wide of the target.
But it was inevitable that Powell would get on the score sheet and on 34 minutes he increased Latics’ lead when he met Power’s corner to head past Tomas Holy from the edge of the six-yard box.
Early in the second half, Holy made a smart save low down at the near post to deny Powell a second goal.
Jacobs then produced a forceful run into the Gills area before unleashing a low drive which beat Holy, but came back off the inside of the post, ran across the six-yard box and away to safety.
Jacobs then then set up Grigg at the near post but the striker’s effort was blocked by Max Ehmer.
Dan Burn and Jacobs had further opportunities to increase the lead before Power’s cross almost found the boot of the ever dangerous Powell at the back post.
The disappointing Gills nearly managed a consolation in added time but List’s header was ruled out for offside.
Latics had been a class above League One’s in-form team with some superb performances from their top players. Powell, Grigg, Burn and captain Sam Morsy in particular all showing their star quality and commitment to the cause.