Championship table-toppers Cardiff City notched a much-needed 2-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
Cardiff, who have made a habit of stuttering late in recent seasons , entered the Hillsborough fixture with just one win from their past five matches.
And second-placed Hull City and Watford, in third, had closed to within one and three points respectively of the Welsh outfit.
But Saturday was a terrific day for Malky Mackay’s side, as their two nearest rivals lost while they celebrated a terrific away win.
Scotsman Don Cowie scored the crucial opener for Cardiff on the stroke of half-time and defender Matthew Connolly made sure of the three points with his goal on 65 minutes.
Cardiff now lead Hull by four points, while they are six clear of Watford, giving them important breathing space on the table.
Hull will be disappointed with their 2-1 home loss to the resurgent Nottingham Forest given they had the lead in front of their home fans at the KC Stadium.
George Boyd – recently signed by Hull after Forest claimed his eyesight was not good enough to pass a medical in the January transfer window – fittingly opened the scoring for his new club in first half stoppage time.
But Darius Henderson levelled 10 minutes into the second half before substitute Lewis McGugan bagged the winner in the dying stages.
Forest have now won their past five matches, form that has seen them climb to sixth on the table.
Despite possessing a terrific away record this season, Watford slumped to a 1-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Barnsley. Bobby Hassell scored the winner after 35 minutes at Oakwell.
Buoyed by their midweek win in a FA Cup quarter-final replay at Blackburn, Millwall won on the road again with goals from Jermaine Easter and Shane Lowry giving them a 2-0 win at London rivals Charlton Athletic.
Lowry’s goal – a free-kick from more than 30 yards – stunned the hosts as Millwall climbed into the top half of the table.
Huddersfield Town claimed a 2-1 win at Yorkshire rivals Leeds United, with James Vaughan bagging the winner four minutes from time.
Leicester loanee Neil Danns had given Huddersfield the lead early in the second half, and although Aidan White levelled for Leeds, they failed to win for the fourth game in succession.
Other results saw Middlesbrough’s playoff aims take a hit as they lost 1-0 at home to Birmingham City, with Serbian Nikola Zigic bagging a late winner for the visitors.
Bolton’s run of five wins on the trot came to an end as they lost 1-0 at Ipswich Town and strugglers Peterborough United won by the same scoreline against Blackpool.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – another team stuck in a relegation battle – came from behind to beat Bristol City 2-1 at Molineux, with Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Kevin Doyle scoring in the last 15 minutes for the winners.