Championship leaders Wolves had their momentum checked by a goalless draw at Barnsley, while promotion-chasing Derby County and Cardiff City claimed dominant wins.
Sunderland and their former Wales boss Chris Coleman were on the receiving end at the Cardiff City Stadium, with a 4-0 defeat leaving them rock bottom, although second-bottom Birmingham City fared little better as Derby ran out 3-0 winners at St Andrew's.
Leeds United missed out on the chance to replace Sheffield United in the play-off places, while Aitor Karanka began life as Nottingham Forest manager with defeat to Aston Villa.
OAKWELL STALEMATE AS BLUEBIRDS AND RAMS MAKE HAY
Wolves' advantage at the top stands at a dominant 10 points despite being unable to find a way past Barnsley, where both Helder Costa and Diogo Jota were frustrated by offside flags and the latter struck the crossbar.
Victory was much needed for Cardiff, with Callum Paterson netting a double to help end a run of four consecutive defeats at the expense of lowly Sunderland.
Joe Ralls and Anthony Pilkington were also on target as City made the most of Didier Ndong receiving a straight red card for a 49th-minute challenge on Junior Hoilett.
Derby boss Gary Rowett made a more enjoyable return to an old stomping ground, with Johnny Russell's defected strike opening the scoring after 19 minutes.
Matej Vydra rifled his 16th of the season and Andreas Weimann converted a late third from close range to keep County two points ahead of Cardiff in second.
CELINA STUNNER DOWNS LEEDS
Friday's Sheffield derby finishing all square meant Leeds would have moved into the top six by avoiding defeat at Portman Road.
But Ipswich Town took advantage against opponents playing with 10 men after Eunan O'Kane's red card for an altercation with Jonas Knudsen, with on-loan Manchester City midfielder Bersant Celina curling in a superb long-range effort midway through the second half.
'We had to just wait for that one opportunity and not try to force it but I forced it into the top corner so that was alright!'@BersantCelina on Town's victory over Leeds at Portman Road #itfc pic.twitter.com/mHrAZuJSjM— Ipswich Town FC (@Official_ITFC) January 13, 2018
Nottingham Forest dumped Arsenal out of the FA Cup last weekend, but were no match for Aston Villa, with Scott Hogan nodding in the only goal at the City Ground after 18 minutes.
Steve Bruce's men are fourth in the table – above Bristol City on goal difference after the EFL Cup semi-finalists lost 1-0 to Norwich City at Ashton Gate, where James Maddison netted the winner after Josh Brownhill hit the post for the hosts.
STRUGGLERS REMAIN IN STRIFE
Sunderland and Birmingham's misfortune could not be capitalised upon by the sides third and fourth bottom respectively.
Burton Albion were beaten 3-1 at home by Queens Park Rangers, while Bolton Wanderers went down 2-0 at Brentford.
Like Bolton, Hull City are a point above the drop zone and drew 0-0 with a Reading side themselves looking anxiously over their shoulders.
Elsewhere, Oliver Norwood's penalty deep into stoppage time saw Fulham past fellow play-off hopefuls Middlesbrough 1-0 and Millwall and Preston North End shared a 1-1 draw.
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