Reading came through a thrilling encounter with bottom side Crewe to extend their lead at the top of the Coca-Cola Championship.
What appeared a routine three points proved anything but as battling Crewe defied the 54-point gap between the two sides to make Reading fight hard for a 4-3 win at Gresty Road.
Lee Bell put Crewe ahead after 14 minutes but Reading hit back with goals from Nicky Shorey, Steve Sidwell and Leroy Lita.
Gareth Taylor pulled one back for Crewe and although Lita grabbed a second, a Kenny Lunt penalty left Reading facing a nervy last 22 minutes.
They survived without further damage – extending their unbeaten record to 31 games, a record for English football’s second tier – and Crewe had Lunt sent off for a crude lunge on Stephen Hunt late on.
Aki Riihilahti struck the winner as 10-man Crystal Palace secured a 1-0 victory over play-off rivals Cardiff at Selhurst Park.
Riihilahti, making his first start since September, was on hand after fantastic work from Andrew Johnson midway through the second half.
Palace defender Fitz Hall was later sent off following an off-the-ball incident involving Joe Ledley but the home side hung on.
Paul McKenna had a late penalty saved by Steve Simonsen as Preston were forced to settle for a goalless draw at 10-man Stoke.
The draw still extended North End’s unbeaten run to 22 games but McKenna could have won it after Carl Hoefkens brought down Tyrone Mears in the area.
The Potters had battled on after midfielder Darel Russell was sent off for violent conduct in the 55th minute.
Leeds maintained their promotion push as goals from Richard Cresswell and skipper Paul Butler handed them a hard-earned success over Queens Park Rangers at Elland Road.
Cresswell headed the opener after 39 minutes but the points were not secured until Butler netted in the closing stages.
Hull came from behind to claim a much-needed win with a 3-2 success over Luton at Kenilworth Road.
Keith Keane got Luton off to a good start with a goal in the ninth minute but the Tigers hit back through Stuart Elliott, Darryl Duffy and Jon Parkin. Chris Coyne gave Luton late hope but Hull held on.
Dennis Wise continued his fine start at Coventry with both goals in a 2-0 win over struggling Brighton at the Ricoh Arena.
The former England midfielder struck in each half as Coventry secured a third successive win.
Michael Ricketts was on target as Burnley beat Plymouth 1-0 and Matt Fryatt hit the winner as managerless Leicester overcame Wolves by the same scoreline.
Sheffield Wednesday also won 1-0 at Millwall, courtesy of a Frank Simek goal, while Southampton’s clash with Derby ended goalless.