New­cas­tle con­tinue strug­gle in pro­mo­tion bat­tle

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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

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