Middlesbrough took advantage of playing before their promotion rivals by returning to the top of the Sky Bet Championship with a 1-0 win over struggling Wigan Athletic.With Bournemouth and Watford not kicking off their games against Ipswich Town and Derby County respectively until later on, Boro stole a march on their rivals thanks to Patrick Bamford's 17th strike of the season.
The on-loan Chelsea striker bent a low effort into the bottom corner in the 20th minute and that was enough to send Boro two points clear at the summit.
The defeat for Wigan, who squandered second-half chances, leaves them five points adrift of safety.
It was also a good afternoon for Norwich City who are kept out of the top two on goal difference alone after a 1-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion.
It was exactly one year ago this weekend when the Canaries sacked Chris Hughton, but there was to be no revenge for the Brighton boss as his new side were downed by Bradley Johnson's cool finish just after the hour.
Brentford also moved back into the top six after a 4-1 win over local rivals Fulham.
The Bees surged into a two-goal lead thanks to Stuart Dallas' brace, grabbing a goal in either half with two fine finishes.
Ross McCormack's penalty got the Cottagers back in it with 20 minutes to go but late efforts from Alan Judge and Ramallo Jota settled it for the Bees.
Wolverhampton Wanderers made their move into the top six with an impressive 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest.
Kenny Jackett's men went in front just 20 seconds after the restart with a fine effort from distance by Benik Afobe and Bakary Sako's 72nd-minute penalty ensured they moved up to sixth in the league despite Dexter Blackstock's late strike.
Millwall breathed fresh life into their survival fight with a late 2-1 come-from-behind win against 10-man Charlton Athletic.
Goals from Magaye Gueye and Jos Hooiveld in the final 11 minutes gave the Lions the points after Alou Diarra put Charlton, who had Chris Solly sent off, ahead.
Elsewhere, Rotherham United's plight is more precarious now after they went down 2-1 at Birmingham City.
In the division's two evening matches, Bournemouth fought back from going behind after six minutes, to draw 1-1 at Ipswich Town.
Freddie Sears put the hosts a goal to the good but the Cherries hit back through Kenwyne Jones in the 82nd minute, three minutes into his debut from the bench, to consolidate second spot.
Watford, looking to take advantage of the opportunity to top the table, made the perfect start in their game at Derby County when Matej Vydra netted the opener midway through the first half.
The Rams responded and went ahead through a Darren Bent penalty and Tom Ince goal before Odion Ighalo ensured a share of the spoils for the 10-man Hornets with the equaliser 15 minutes from time.
On Saturday, the games between Reading and Cardiff City, Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town, and Bolton Wanderers and Blackpool all finished 1-1, while Blackburn Rovers saw off Leeds United 3-0 at Elland Road.