Sam Baldock scored twice as Brighton and Hove Albion returned to the top of the Championship with 2-0 win over Barnsley.
With Newcastle United not in action until Monday’s home clash against Aston Villa, Brighton took full advantage to put a dent in the Tykes’ top-six hopes.
The race for a play-off spot is becoming more strung out as the sides occupying those places put further space between themselves and the chasing pack.
Norwich City’s surprise loss to Burton Albion played into the hands of a Sheffield Wednesday side who overcame struggling Nottingham Forest, while Leeds United picked up a point at Ipswich Town.
At the other end of the table, Rotherham United’s woes continued with a 5-0 thrashing at Cardiff City, while Gianfranco Zola’s Birmingham City nightmare continued with a heavy home loss to QPR.
SAM’S THE MAN FOR SEAGULLS
Brighton were made to work hard for the three points at Oakwell, with Barnsley fresh from an impressive midweek win at Aston Villa.
But Baldock stepped up with a second-half double to break the hosts’ resistance and put Chris Hughton’s side two points clear at the summit.
The brace took Baldock’s league goals tally to nine for the season as the south-coast club ended a four-match winless run away from home in all competitions.
FT: Victory is Albion’s first at Oakwell for more than 25 years, since 2-1 win here in August 1991.
— BHAFC (@OfficialBHAFC) February 18, 2017
CANARIES FLOP AS OWLS FLY
A first loss in seven matches for Norwich combined with Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Forest opened up a seven-point gap between the two.
Burton’s 2-1 triumph was a huge boost to their survival bid, but leaves the Carrow Road club facing an uphill challenge to claim a Premier League return.
The Owls, beaten play-off finalists last season, took the lead through Almen Abdi’s stunning volley just two minutes after Keiren Westwood made amends for fouling Ben Brereton in the area by saving Ross McCormack’s penalty.
Fernando Forestieri doubled the advantage and, although, Ben Osborn reduced the deficit, Carlos Carvalhal’s men held on for the win.
Also in the promotion shake-up, Stuart Dallas earned a share of the spoils for Leeds at Ipswich, who had led through Freddie Sears.
QPR PILE MISERY ON ZOLA
Birmingham’s plummet down the table under Zola continued with a 4-1 home loss at the hands of QPR.
The Italian has won just one of his 14 games at the helm and there was notable unrest among the home fans at full-time.
For the Rs, though, it was a first win in six, moving them seven points above the relegation zone after 22nd-placed Wigan Athletic drew 0-0 with Preston North End.
FT: What a win for #QPR!
4️⃣ goals on the road wrap up an emphatic win on the road in the @SkyBetChamp.
— QPR FC (@QPRFC) February 18, 2017
Elsewhere, rock-bottom Rotherham have now conceded 73 league goals after their hammering at the hands of mid-table Cardiff.
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