Leicester chose the perfect time to reassert their Championship title credentials with a 1-0 victory over previously unbeaten newcomers Brighton to move to within six points of the summit.
The Seagulls started the day at the top of the table after achieving five wins and a draw in their first six Championship outings but were second best on their trip to the Walkers Stadium and were defeated by Yuki Abe’s 46th-minute header.
The result impacted on the fight for first in two ways, as the Foxes sailed past their opponents in the Ladbrokes betting, Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side cut to 6/1 as Brighton drifted to 8/1, while it also presented the opportunity for another club to claim top spot.
Strong 2/1 favourites West Ham blew their opening in one of the early kick-offs, dropping points on their travels for the first time with a dull goalless draw at rivals Millwall, in which Henri Lansbury and David Bentley were guilty of missing good chances.
Middlesbrough weren’t going to be denied though and a few miles down the road only a few hours later earned a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace through in-form striker Marvin Emnes to lead the way in the division for the first time in over two years.
Tony Mowbray was already a hero on Teesside for his contribution as captain yet could be on course to trump all of that, despite having had little to spend compared to predecessor Gordon Strachan. His team are 7/1 to end the season as champions.
Their former manager Steve McClaren meanwhile continues to have a miserable time at Nottingham Forest. They were tipped to challenge in the summer but are in the relegation zone after a 2-1 home loss to foes Derby, and are 66/1 outsiders.