They kept up the pressure on Fulham with two goals in three minutes either side of half-time from Kurt Nogan sandwiched between two from Steve Basham, reflecting Preston's complete command. Jonathon Macken wrapped up the scoring.
There were closer calls for Walsall and Gillingham, but both managed 1-0 away wins to stay third and fourth. Darko Mavarak scored Walsall's winner at Northampton, while Andy Hessenthaler gave Gillingham the points at Bristol Rovers.
Notts County registered the third 1-0 away win of the night when they increased troubled Luton's woes at Kenilworth Road, where Kevin Rapley delivered the telling blow with a goal in the 72nd minute.
In the Third Division, Mansfield's play-off hopes were undermined by a last-minute goal from Julian Alsop that gave Swansea a 1-0 home win, but Plymouth beat Chester 2-0, with goals from Terry Sweeney and Dwight Marshall.Reuse content