Aston Villa missed the chance to move second in the Championship as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Preston North End, Lewis Grabban's penalty cancelling out Tom Barkhuizen's opener.
Republic of Ireland pair Conor Hourihane and Scott Hogan both started for the Villans, who had Glenn Whelan on the bench, but it proved a frustrated evening.
Alan Browne played his part in a solid display for the Lilywhites and Daryl Horgan came on for the last seven minutes, replacing Louis Mult, to help his team move up to ninth.
Like Preston, Middlesbrough are two points behind sixth-placed Bristol City after a convincing 3-1 victory over Hull at the Riverside.
Rudy Gestede scored twice and Patrick Bamford also netted to down Hull, who had equalised shortly before half-time through Evandro Goebel.
Sheffield United are just one point adrift of Lee Johnson's side after beating QPR 2-1 at Bramall Lane.
Richard Stearman and John Lundstram put the Blades in control before Luke Freeman made the final half an hour uncomfortable.
Millwall made it 11 games unbeaten at home in all competitions with a 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday.
Losing to Josey Pulupessy's 42nd-minute opener, the Lions responded through Lee Gregory and Steve Morison and held on in the 13 minutes of stoppage time.
Burton condemned Jose Morais to defeat in his first game in charge of Barnsley with a 2-1 victory which moved Albion off the bottom of the Championship.
The Portuguese, appointed as Paul Heckingbottom's successor last week, suffered a dismal start to life at Oakwell as Jamie Allen's screamer put the visitors 1-0 ahead inside a minute.
Jacob Davenport doubled Burton's advantage with a free-kick on the stroke of half-time and they held on despite Daniel Pinillos' 75th-minute goal.
Burton leapfrogged Sunderland and Barnsley but remain in the bottom three, below Hull only on goal difference.
Sunderland dropped to the foot of the table after losing 1-0 at fellow strugglers Bolton.
On-loan Nottingham Forest forward Zach Clough scored the winner in the first half to take Wanderers four points above the drop zone, level with Reading.
The Royals drew 1-1 at Nottingham Forest after Lee Tomlin's 85th-minute equaliser cancelled out Omar Richards' first-half strike.
Birmingham are one point from safety following a 5-0 defeat away to play-off chasing Brentford.
Ollie Watkins scored in each half while Florian Jozefzoon and Neal Maupay also struck before Marc Roberts' own goal.