Newcastle continue struggle in promotion battle
LONDON: Newcastle United’s stuttering progress towards promotion back to the Premier League continued as they were held 0-0 by Birmingham City on Saturday, although they remain in pole position.
Rafa Benitez’s side’s third Championship match without a win could have proved more damaging but second-placed Brighton & Hove Albion went down 2-0 at playoff-chasing Leeds United.
Third-placed Huddersfield Town were thrashed 4-0 at lowly Bristol City on Friday.
Leaders Newcastle have 78 points, a point ahead of Brighton and seven in front of Huddersfield, who have a game in hand on their promotion rivals. Leeds are fourth with 69 points.
Fulham missed the chance to move into the playoff places when they were beaten 3-1 at home by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
“People may expect us to win every away game but this was a valuable away point,” Benitez said. “There are still eight matches to be played and as Huddersfield lost we are now in a better position than we were before the game.”
The point leaves Gianfranco Zola’s struggling Birmingham side five points above the drop zone.
Nottingham Forest grabbed a stoppage time equaliser against Derby County as the East Midlands derby ended 2-2 at the City Ground in Mark Warburton’s first match in charge, with visiting manager Gary Rowett also making his debut in the dug out.
Derby led 2-1 with goals from Matej Vydra and David Nugent after falling behind, but Forest’s Daniel Pinillos struck in the 94th minute to earn a point that keeps the former English and European champions just above the relegation zone.
Forest are a point above the drop zone where Blackburn Rovers, another club to have won the English title, have 40 after being denied a victory at home to Preston North End when the visitors scored in stoppage time for a 2-2 draw. Reuters