Darren Moore and Michael Duff on positive top-two twists for Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley
After starting the day outside of the automatic promotion positions, the Owls ended it by returning to the summit after previous leaders Plymouth suffered a surprise 2-0 home loss to Lincoln and Ipswich were pegged back in a late 1-1 draw at Cheltenham.
Wednesday eased past Accrington 3-0 – and registered a relieving first victory in seven matches.
The fourth-placed Reds beat Shrewsbury 2-1 to record an eighth successive home win for the first time in the same season since 1955.
On a fluctuating top-two battle, Owls manager Darren Moore, who lost Reece James and Mallik Wilks to injury, said: "That's the way it is. The games are whittling down, but there's still a lot of football to be played. I'm pleased for us in putting in a strong performance.
"There was an expectancy around the place and it's not easy to deal with that against a team fighting for their lives. But it was about keeping the clean sheet and getting the three points and we did that."
Barnsley triumphed in a heated encounter which saw Nicky Cadden put the hosts ahead before later being controversially dismissed.
The Reds are six points behind the Owls – with a game in hand – and five adrift of second-placed Plymouth.
Michael Duff's side trail Ipswich, in third, by four points. They host the Suffolk outfit on April 25.
On an eighth straight Oakwell win and 12th in 16 games, home and away, Duff said: "It's no mean feat and there's been some good teams in that (home) run as well.
"We are going to have to be nearly perfect (to finish in top two), we know that. But there's lots to play for and we have got to take care of our own business, that's all we can do.
"There's been loads of twists and turns.
Everyone said Sheffield Wednesday had blown it because they went to Forest Green (and lost) and went four or five games without a win and now they are at the top of the league (again).
"You can get consumed by all that. Unless we win enough games, we won't be in the top two.
“We are outsiders, we know that."