Championship Focus: Awful week sees Newcastle’s lead disappear

Photo credit: Fulham FC / Twitter: @FulhamFC
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A week ago, Newcastle United sat atop England’s second division with a five-point lead and just 11 games still to play. Following a 0-0 draw away to Reading on Tuesday, and Brighton & Hove Albion’s 2-0 win away to last-place Rotherham United the same day, the Magpies’ advantage was three points.

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In short, Rafa Benitez‘s men looked poised to run away with the Championship title, let alone one of the two automatic promotion places.

Newcastle United 1-3 Fulham

Now, following a 3-1 thrashing at the hands of seventh-place Fulham on Saturday, only goal differential has Newcastle top of the league. Huddersfield Town, on the back of two wins this week, are now just six points back in the race for automatic promotion.

Tom Cairney put the visitors ahead on the quarter-hour mark, and then a star was born. 16-year-old Ryan Sessegnon bagged a brace in eight second-half minutes (51st and 58th) to complete the Cottagers’ scoring, his third and fourth league goals of the season. Sessegnon was denied the chance to complete his hat trick, though, when Tim Ream took, and missed, a 91st-minute penalty kick.

[ MORE: Arsenal beat Lincoln to reach FA Cup semis | Man City also through ]

Brighton & Hove Albion 3-0 Derby County

Brighton applied the pressure Friday night, well before Newcastle took the field a day later, brushing aside 10th-place Derby at Falmer Stadium. Anthony Knockaert opened the scoring in the fifth minute, and Sam Baldock and Glenn Murray completed the rout either side of the halftime break.

Following back-to-back losses last week, Brighton are back in the title race thanks to back-to-back wins this week. As ever, everything in the Championship is up and down like a yoyo.

Elsewhere in the Championship

(14th) Brentford 0-1 (3rd) Huddersfield Town
(4th) Leeds United 0-0 (15th) Queens Park Rangers
(8th) Preston North End 3-0 (5th) Reading
(12th) Aston Villa 2-0 (6th) Sheffield Wednesday