Barnsley followed up their two cracking away wins with a home draw against Brighton despite having Etuhu sent off 14 minutes from time.
The resurgent Reds looked confident as they made their way onto the pitch with the survival mission back on track thanks to back-to-back wins at Reading and Yeovil as they faced a Brighton side who had stumbled of late.
The Seagulls were still just three points shy of Reading in the final play-off place, but their previous four matches had yielded only onr point.
The Reds couldn’t move out of the drop zone today thanks to Charlton’s superior goal difference, but there was an expectancy among the fans that a priceless first Championship double could be achieved.
The sun was shining brightly at kick-off time and there was a distinct buzz of anticipation in the air as the hosts threatened first.
Dawson evaded a couple of challenges as he surged into the Brighton box, only for his goal-bound shot to be blocked by Greer.
Cywka saw a similar effort blocked as the hosts were in charge in the opening 10 minutes.
Barnsley’s rousing start lifted the crowd and it was the hosts threatened again in the 16th minute.
O’Grady did well down the left to play Jennings in, but the former Bayern Munich man saw a well-struck shot comfortably saved by ex-Manchester United ‘keeper Kuszczak.
As the sunshine turned to rain the home fans in the Ponty End decided to dance a Conga up and down the terracing as their team continued to press for an opener.
They almost got it when McLaughlin’s super cross from the right was desperately headed away from danger by full-back Ward as O’Grady looked set to meet the ball.
Brighton appeared content to retain some possession as they eased their way into the game, and their first chance came in the 25th minute.
Midfielder Stephens was afforded too much time on the edge of the Reds box before firing in a shot which M’voto slid in to block bravely.
The Reds were out of luck with a free-kick opportunity on the half-hour mark.
The rampaging Dawson was felled just outside the box, and after Cywka had lashed the kick powerfully into the wall, Lawrence latched straight onto the rebound and volleyed narrowly over.
The tempo had dipped but the Reds looked in charge and were looking sturdy at the back with the solid pairing of M’voto and Nyatanga rarely troubled.
There was a huge scare for Barnsley in the 37th minute.Seagulls’ loanee Lingard nodded neatly into the path of Ulloa, but the Argentinian’s super shot was deflected over by M’voto who slid in superbly to make the timeliest of challenges.
Stephens then arrowed a shot just wide from the opposite side of the box
Neither boss made changes at the interval, presumably preferring to see if their team could really force themselves onto the opposition in what was such a crucial fixture.
The Seagulls looked threatening, with March cutting in and firing in a low cross which Steele had to save well at his near post.
The woodwork then came to the visitors’ rescue. Seven minutes after the restart Kennedy clipped in a peach of a cross for McLaughlin, who rose superbly but could only watch as his header struck thebar before the ball was hacked to safety.
Brighton responded with Lingard curling a shot just over at the other end, and it was beginning to look like a breakthrough may be imminent.
The Reds responded with O’Grady seeing an effort blocked by Greer again, but soon after that the game appeared to drift into mediocrity once again.
It was quite clear that both sides were desperate just to avoid conceding, though Brighton almost did in the 70th minute.
Again Kennedy floated in a superb cross from the left, but M’voto’s diving header fizzed a whisker past the post.
With 14 minutes remaining the Reds were reduced to 10 men. Etuhu, who had looked impressive in the back four again, impeded advancing sub Lualua - a challenge which warranted a second yellow card and so off he trudged.
But the Reds quickly reorganised and M’voto had a header saved by Kuszczak.
In the end neither side managed to break the deadlock, so it’s back to Oakwell for the next battle royal against promotion-chasing Burnley on Tuesday.