QPR got their Championship promotion campaign back on track with a 2-0 win at Birmingham, while Derby's bid to reach the Premier League was rocked by a 1-0 defeat against Millwall on Saturday.
Harry Redknapp's team moved within six points of second placed Burnley, who face local rivals Blackburn on Sunday, thanks to a double from on-loan West Ham midfielder Ravel Morrison at St Andrews.
Former Manchester United trainee Morrison, who resurrected his career during a loan spell at Birmingham last season, scored from a fine 14th-minute free-kick and netted a simple second in the 72nd minute to leave his old club without a win in their last 12 home games.
It was a much-needed first victory in six matches for the west Londoners and Birmingham boss Lee Clark was so impressed by Morrison's display that he compared the 21-year-old to Tottenham and England legend Paul Gascoigne.
"He is the best footballer since Paul Gascoigne," Clark said. "I played with Paul. I grew up with Paul.
"Ravel has the pace of a wide-man. He has the balance but plays in the middle of the pitch because he can manoeuvre the ball.
"Ravel can score goals as we have seen. It is what's between the ears with him and he knows about this problem."
At the iPro Stadium, third placed Derby missed a chance to increase the pressure on Burnley as they suffered a surprise loss to struggling Millwall.
A second half header from Steve Morison was enough to give Millwall only their second away win of the season and condemn Derby to their second defeat in eight days.
Ian Holloway's side stunned Derby in the 61st minute when Lee Martin crossed from the left and Morison stole in to head into an empty net from two yards.
Derby remain five points behind Burnley in the race for automatic promotion, while Millwall's second win in their last nine matches kept them one place above the relegation zone.
Rams manager Steve McClaren had no excuses for his side's lacklustre showing.
"I think if we had been playing for two more days we wouldn't have scored," he said.
"We had no quality in the final third. Millwall came to do a job and they frustrated us.
"There's not been many times when I've said I've been disappointed with the performance but today is one when I can."
Dale Jennings claimed his first Barnsley goal as the struggling Tykes climbed off the bottom of the table with a 1-0 win over fifth placed Nottingham Forest at Oakwell.
Royston Drenthe fired a second-half equaliser as sixth placed Reading fought back strongly to earn a 1-1 draw at fellow play-off contenders Brighton.
The Seagulls had taken the lead through a Chris Gunter own goal but had to play the final 39 minutes with 10 men at the Amex stadium following captain Gordon Greer's dismissal for two bookings.
Drenthe's 64th minute equaliser kept Reading two points ahead of Brighton in the play-off race.
Bolton thrashed Leeds 5-1 at Elland Road to continue their revival with a third successive win.
Leeds manager Brian McDermott, who was sacked and then reinstated by the club's new owners earlier this season, was keen to play down talk his job could be under threat again.
"It is pointless thinking about my own position," he said.
"All I can do is get everyone together, train on Sunday and Monday and put a team out against Reading on Tuesday. That is what I want to do."
Elsewhere, Yeovil boosted their hopes of avoiding relegation with a 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday while Bournemouth won 1-0 at Blackpool.
Doncaster beat Huddersfield 2-0 and Middlesbrough defeated Ipswich 2-0.