Both Derby County and Nottingham Forest failed to win again as they were involved in Championship stalemates on Tuesday — but the Reds struk late to grab a precious away point while the Rams failed to score for a third time in a row.
Injury-decimated Forest travelled to mid-table Middlesbrough having only bagged a single point from their last four league matches and staring at the prospect of a fourth defeat on the spin in all competitions.
In fifth spot, their playoff spot is also looking in serious jeopardy with Reading, who beat Leeds 4-2, breathing down their necks and Brighton, who beat QPR 2-0 and who they face Forest in their last game of the regular campaign, three points behind with a game in hand.
And a dark cloud descended when Mustapha Carayol put the home side in front after half time before wasting a gilt-edged chance to double the advantage.
It was Forest who took advantage as Darius Henderson popped up in the 80th minute to convert a cross from returning skipper Andy Reid.
There were claims for handball against Henderson but Forest were in desperate need of a slice of luck in their favour ahead of hosting strugglers Doncaster Rovers in a must-win game at the City Ground on Saturday.
As for Derby, their stuttering form continued at the iPro against Bolton in a 0-0 draw that saw them slip seven points adrift of second-placed Burnley with their chances of automatic promotion seemingly slipping away.
The closest Steve McClaren’s came was in injury time when substitute Conor Sammon was denied by Bolton ‘keeper Adam Bogdan as the strike was fired straight at him.
Rock-bottom Notts County are now five points adrift of safety in League One after they lost 3-1 to MK Dons at Meadow Lane.
Dele Ali put the visitors in control as early as the third minute and doubled the advantage ten minutes into the second half.
The Magpies had a lifeline when Jordan Spence handled in the box and Alan Sheehan converted the resulting penalty in the 70th minute.
But Ali netted his hat-trick goal in injury time to ensure the Dons keep up their charge towards the playoffs while Derry’s Notts continue to struggle.