Goals from David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp fired Sheffield United to a 2-0 Championship win over Bolton Wanderers at Bramall Lane.
After a tight opening 45 minutes, Sharp provided the assist for McGoldrick to break the deadlock, before heading in a second from close range.
Deadline-day signing Scott Hogan was named a Blades substitute, along with fellow January recruits Kieran Dowell and Gary Madine.
There were starts for Mark Duffy and McGoldrick, as United looked to close the gap on the top two.
Billy Sharp had the first sniff of a goal on 13 minutes, but the striker - after ghosting clear - failed to get the ball under control and goalkeeper Remi Matthews raced out to claim possession.
Enda Stevens saw his fierce effort blocked by David Wheater, but the opening half was devoid of any clear chances for either side.
Bolton were defending well, and John Fleck also saw his shot hit a Wanderers player as the side left the field, locked 0-0 at half-time.
The visitors started the second half well, and former Blades striker Clayton Donaldson's header at the back post was comfortable for goalkeeper Dean Henderson.
But the Blades broke the deadlock on 56 minutes and it owed so much to top scorer Sharp.
He beat the Bolton defender to the ball before squaring it for David McGoldrick who could not miss in front of an unguarded net.
John Fleck hammered high into the Kop - after more unselfish work from Sharp - but Bolton should have done better, when Callum Connelly fired wide after finding space inside United's penalty area.
Sharp got the goal his play deserved, heading in a Ollie Norwood free-kick on 73 minutes.
Blades boss Chris Wilder praised his side’s improved second-half display.
Wilder said: “They were dogged opponents with professional pride at stake and we had to work hard.
“It was a really slow game in the first half and I suppose they would have been delighted with that.
“We played a little too slow and a little too safe for my liking in the first half.
“We just needed to speed things up in the second half, which we did.
“It’s a little gentle reminder that we can’t try and coast in games. We’ve got to go full tilt and see if we can blow the opposition away early on.
“Every game has got to be won and taken on its merits. You’ve got to get the job done - we know that.
“Once we got going and got into a pattern, we played some decent stuff.
“It looks a pretty comfortable result but, particularly in the first 45 minutes, it wasn’t for us.”