Injury-hit Wigan Athletic suffered a seventh straight away defeat when they were beaten 2-0 by high-flying Middlesbrough at the Riverside.
Latics had matched their opponents for most of the first-half but a couple of defensive errors put Boro in the driving seat by half-time.
Darron Gibson gave the ball away needlessly before Cedric Kipre rashly fouled George Friend just inside the penalty area and Jordan Hugill converted the resulting spot-kick.
Boro were soon 2-0 up when Christian Walton got a hand to a cross from Martin Braithwaite but only diverted the ball into the path of Hugill who smashed the ball into the top of the net.
Latics had been their own worst enemies and despite an improved second-half showing they were unable to create many chances to reduce the deficit.
Middlesbrough move up to second in the table and Latics remain in 16th position, eight points off the play-offs and four points above the relegation zone.
Depleted Latics made three changes from the side that were defeated 2-1 by Leeds United with Nick Powell, Gary Roberts and Lee Evans replacing Joe Garner, Kal Naismith and the suspended Samy Morsy.
Latics faced some early pressure from the hosts but gradually worked themselves into the game.
Lee Evans tried his luck from 25 yards before Dan Burn headed off target from close range following Gary Roberts’ corner.
Boro went closest when Walton denied Danny Batth with a great save and Powell had to clear off the line from Aden Flint’s effort.
But all Latics good work was undone when two defensive errors in the space of six minutes put Boro in control.
Gibson gave the ball away and Kipre made a rash challenge just inside the area on Friend and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a spot-kick. Hugill duly converted, sending Walton the wrong way.
It was soon 2-0 as Martin Braithwaite crossed into the area where Walton only managed to push the ball into the path of Hugill who smashed the ball high into the net.
Latics upped their game in the second half with Powell forcing an early save from Darren Randolph which nearly fell into the path of the Josh Windass.
Evans then saw his effort from inside the penalty area blocked from Dan Burn’s knockdown.
Powell fired wide of the target on the hour mark but Latics were struggling to create any clear cut chances.
On 74 minutes Paul Cook made a double substitution with Callum McManaman and James Vaughan replacing Powell and Windass.
The change almost worked as McManaman curled a shot from the edge of the area narrowly wide of the post with Vaughan in close attendance.
McManaman looked lively as Latics created some half chances – the FA Cup winning winger firing over the crossbar following a Reece James free-kick.
But despite Latics’ best efforts Boro were fairly comfortable sitting back and absorbing the pressure.
It was always going to be a difficult task against a team who had only conceded eight goals all season but Cook’s team had once again contributed to their own downfall by making silly mistakes. As against Leeds United defensive lapses had proved costly.
Some of Latics’ players are still learning about the rigours of the Championship and others probably didn’t expect to be playing quite so regularly at this level.
It is not a time to panic however, as Latics are in the throes of an injury crisis which would cause problems for any team in the Championship. They’ve had a tough run of fixtures against teams at the top end of the table and very few teams would be able to get results with at least half of their first XI missing.
With the international break upcoming and a more reasonable run of fixtures in the offing against Reading, Blackburn and Bolton, Latics should be able to get one or two of their missing players back into action and get back to winning ways.