Championship Focus: Newcastle end winless skid, stay top

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

10 points clear of third place with seven games to go in the Championship season, Newcastle United seem all but guaranteed to win promotion to the Premier League. Brighton & Hove Albion, a single point behind the Magpies, look set to join them.

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Newcastle United 2-1 Wigan Athletic

Dwight Gayle (22nd of the season) and Matt Ritchie (10th of the season, to go with 7 assists), a pair of players with very recent PL experience, bagged goals either side of halftime for Rafa Benitez‘s side, as Newcastle put an end to a three-game winless skid which saw four points hacked off their five-point lead atop the table, as it stood on March 4.

Ahead of Weeks 40 and 41 (Newcastle face 19th-place Burton on Wedensday, and visit 7th-place Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday), promotion is potentially just two games away for the Magpies. Six points, coupled with four or more points dropped by all of Huddersfield Town, Reading and Leeds United, would be enough to send Newcastle back up with five games remaining.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Title race back on after Chelsea lose? ]

Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Blackburn Rovers

Glenn Murray (19th of the season) scored the game’s only goal, in the 67th minute, as Brighton made it three wins in four league games to keep pace with the leaders. Anthony Knockaert notched his 8th assist of the season (to go with 13 goals) on the play.

Brighton, like Newcastle, could also secure promotion this week (hosting Birmingham City on Tuesday, visiting Queens Park Rangers on Friday), with six points of their own and five points or more dropped by the aforementioned chasers.

Elsewhere in the Championship

(3rd) Huddersfield 0-1 (19th) Burton
(4th) Reading 1-0 (5th) Leeds United
(24th) Rotherham United 0-1 (6th) Fulham
(13th) Barnsley 1-1 (7th) Sheffield Wednesday