Peter Lovenkrands and Danny Guthrie both scored twice as Championship leaders Newcastle United hit visitors Barnsley for six, goals by Jonas Gutierrez and Kevin Nolan completing the 6-1 rout which saw Chris Hughton's side open a nine-point gap on the play-off places. But the match turned on the 42nd-minute sending off of Tykes goalkeeper Luke Steele before a goal had been scored for bringing down Lovenkrands, who slotted the resulting penalty past substitute keeper David Preece. The floodgates had been opened.
Mark Robins, the Tykes manager, was puzzled by Steele's red card. "It's dubious whether there was any contact made, but I am told by the referee now that the rule is that it's a trip or an attempt to trip in the penalty area, so I don't know."
Life after Neil Warnock began brightly for Crystal Palace when Alan Lee's 23rd-minute volley proved enough to beat Sheffield United and give new Palace manager Paul Hart the perfect start at his third club this season. "From the minute I came in, the way the players behaved and spoke told me they are a strong bunch and they went out there and proved it," Hart said. "I was absolutely delighted for them. All over the pitch we did what was necessary."
Sheffield Wednesday's Leon Clarke scored a goal in each half as fifth-placed Leicester City, managed by former Owl Nigel Pearson, lost 2-0 at Hillsborough, but Cardiff City, sixth, stayed ahead of the pack, Jay Bothroyd poking home in the third minute to beat Middlesbrough 1-0.
One-nil wins ensured Blackpool and Coventry City kept on the play-off fringes. Jason Euell's strike just before the hour saw Pool beat Ipswich Town at Bloomfield Road to stay two points adrift of Cardiff and a point behind are the Sky Blues whose win at bottom club Peterborough United came courtesy of Jon Stead's 24th goal. "We have to put ourselves out of our misery and accept that we are going down," Posh manager Jim Gannon said. "We need three times as many wins as the club has managed all season to stand a chance." Also in relegation peril, Plymouth Argyle drew 1-1 at home with Preston North End.
Elsewhere, Derby County beat Watford 2-0 and Bristol City's Bradley Orr scored a hat-trick, of sorts, as the Robins were thrashed 5-2 at home by Doncaster Rovers. He scored City's two goals and an own goal for Rovers.
Grant Holt's 26th goal of the season set leaders Norwich City on their way to a 3-0 defeat of Yeovil, opening up a seven-point lead over second-placed Leeds United, who were held to a 1-1 draw at Elland Road by Brentford.
A sombre mood at Edgar Road where Macclesfield played their first match since the death last week of manager Keith Alexander. Reneil Sappleton and Emile Sinclair scored in the 2-0 win over Hereford United. Leaders Rochdale drew 1-1 at Lincoln City, the club Alexander took to four consecutive League Two play-off finishes.
Lee McCulloch scored twice at Ibrox as leaders Rangers came from behind to beat St Mirren 3-1 and stretch their lead to 14 points. Craig Brown's Motherwell won 2-1 at St Johnstone and Hibs beat Kilmarnock 1-0 to go third.