Nottingham Forest boss Steve McClaren had blamed off-field "squabbling" for his side's poor start in the npower Championship this week and they responded by going down without a fight at Burnley.
Forest were 4-0 down at half-time against a Clarets side who started the night below them in 21st position in the table, and their 5-1 defeat must surely now leave McClaren's City Ground tenure hanging by a thread.
Jay Rodriguez shot Burnley into a two-goal lead inside 15 minutes and Chris McCann and Ross Wallace added goals before half-time. Ishmael Miller scored a 59th minute consolation before Charlie Austin completed the rout.
Brighton blew the chance take advantage of the inactivity of Southampton and Middlesbrough and move to the top of the table after falling to a dramatic late defeat at home to Crystal Palace.
Craig Mackail-Smith's seventh minute strike looked set to be enough for the Seagulls but Palace replied with three goals in the last 10 minutes through Wilfried Zaha, Darren Ambrose and Glenn Murray to grab a shock 3-1 win.
Nigel Clough's Derby also missed their chance to go top. The Rams were held 1-1 by Barnsley at Pride Park, with Steve Davies' second-half penalty cancelling out Guy Butterfield's opener for the Tykes.
Former Hammer Lee Bowyer came back to haunt his old side at Upton Park as Sam Allardyce's men also missed the opportunity to threaten top spot with a late 1-0 home defeat to Ipswich.
Doncaster remain rooted to the foot of the table but continued their recent improvement under Dean Saunders by holding out for a point in a 1-1 draw with Hull City at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Bristol City missed the chance to move clear of the foot of the table as they blew a two-goal lead against Reading, who stormed back to take all three points in a 3-2 win at Ashton Gate and Coventry's trying season continued as an injury time equaliser from Keith Southern forced the Sky Blues to settle for a point in a dramatic 2-2 draw with Blackpool at the Ricoh Arena.
An injury-time own goal from Erik Huseklepp handed Peterborough a 3-2 win over Portsmouth at Fratton Park and in another exciting late finish, Watford got the better of Millwall at Vicarage Road. Liam Feeney gave the visitors a 68th minute lead but Carl Dickinson and Craig Forsyth responded to claim a 2-1 win.
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