Derby County pulled away from their play-off chasing rivals with a crucial 2-0 victory over Bristol City.
It could prove to be a pivotal win for the Rams who remain in sixth, with two games remaining as they put distance between themselves and the Robins who now sit four points behind in eighth.
Middlesbrough remain level on points with Derby following their victory though the Rams still have a game in hand.
Tom Lawrence opened the scoring in the 18th minute while superb Rams defending kept the home side off the scoresheet with multiple saves by Kelle Roos and goal-line blocks coming from Jayden Bogle and Martyn Waghorn.
Antoine Semenyo was shown a straight red in the second-half for a challenge on Tom Huddlestone.
Bogle then added the finishing touches in the 77th minute coolly firing into the roof of the net.
It was a tense opening 15 minutes between the two promotion chasing sides, with neither side getting a clear look at the goal. A early blow came for the Rams when Player of the Season, Fikayo Tomori left the game early with an injury and was replaced by George Evans.
Soon after, Derby broke the deadlock in the 18th minute. Brilliant work by Mason Mount down the right of the area saw him shrug off Nathan Baker and cross in to Lawrence who drilled his low effort into the bottom left corner.
From there, the home sides pressure began to build, but brilliant work by Kelle Roos was there each time to foil their efforts.
Jamie Paterson had back-to-back shots saved in the 22nd and 30th minute before a mistake at the back saw Antoine Semenyo, who had just replaced an injured Baker, rifle a low effort towards goal but it was a comfortable stop by the Rams’ keeper.
After seven minutes was shown off additional time, the Rams looked to double their lead ahead of the break. Martyn Waghorn did well to create space in the area to fire a shot from a tight angle towards goal.
Niki Maenpaa managed to tip it away, almost in the path of Mount who was inches away from tapping in the second.
The Robins came close to equalising two minutes following the restart when the ball fell to Jack Hunt in the area who struck from close range but Bogle got his body in the way to clear it off the line.
The Rams hit back just five minutes later when Harry Wilson played Bradley Johnson clean through in the area after good build up play, but Maenpaa managed to block his effort.
In the 59th minute, substitute Semenyo was shown the red for going over the top of the ball into to a challenge on Tom Huddlestone to reduce the home side to ten men.
A tense few moments followed with 25 minutes remaining after Roos tipped over a powerful shot by Andreas Wiemann. Waghorn superbly headed the resulting corner over the bar from off the goal line before Weimann struck the cross bar from the second corner.
Brilliant work by Mason Bennett down the right flank won the ball back for the Rams with just less than 20 minutes remaining. He fed into Waghorn who played Mount through in the area but the midfielder hit the side netting.
Jayden Bogle double the Rams’ lead in the 77th minute to add the final blow. Tom Huddlestone commanded the midfield driving the ball forwards to find Bennett who squared to Bogle at the last second in the area for the young full-back to rifle his effort into the roof of the net.
Bristol City: Maenpaa; Kalas, Baker (Semenyo, 33), Webster; Hunt, Pack (C), Brownhill, Paterson (Palmer, 79), Dasilva; Weimann (Eliasson, 79), Diedhioh
Unused Subs: O’Leary, Wright, Taylor, Kelly
Derby County: Roos; Bogle, Keogh (C), Tomori (Evans, 12), Malone; Huddlestone, Johnson; Wilson (Bennett, 67), Mount, Lawrence; Waghorn (Nugent, 80)
Unused Subs: Carson, Jozefzoon, Marriott, Macdonald