RAFA’S HAPPY TO SETTLE ON SEVEN
CHAMPIONSHIP leaders Newcastle United couldn’t make it a hat-trick of away wins over promotion rivals in a week but picked up a solid point at Jaap Stam’s Reading on Tuesday.
The goalless result at the Madejski Stadium came on the back on the Magpies winning at both Brighton (2-1) and Huddersfield (3-1).
Boss Rafa Benitez said: “We have to be happy to take seven points from the past three away games.
“Today was a pity as I think in the first half we had so many clear chances that there could have been three points.”
Brighton and Huddersfield took the chance to trim Newcastle’s lead. The Seagulls got back to winning ways after a couple of defeats with a 2-0 win at rock-bottom Rotherham. Anthony Knockaert and sub Solly March netted as Chris Hughton’s men closed to within three points of Newcastle.
Huddersfield skipper Tommy Smith grabbed the only goal of the game as the Terriers edged past Aston Villa 1-0, thwarting Villa’s hopes of a fourth win on the spin. It left Huddersfield trailing the Toon Army by nine points with a game in hand.
Other Championship teams who bagged midweek wins were Wigan, Brentford and QPR. Wigan gave their survival chances a massive boost with a 1-0 win at Birmingham City. Dan Burn scored as the Latics added to Blues boss Gianfranco Zola’s misery.
Brentford brought Nottingham Forest back down to earth with a bump following their 3-0 win against Brighton at the weekend. Lasse Vibe struck twice and Jota got the other as the Bees triumphed 3-2 at the City Ground.
Ben Brereton and Zach Clough scored late on for Forest after the Bees had carved out a 3-0 lead.
QPR’s revival under boss Ian Holloway continued as they beat Barnsley 2-1 at Loftus Road. Idrissa Sylla netted early on for the R’s before an Angus MacDonald own goal doubled the advantage. Barnsley sub Tom Bradshaw pulled one back.
All the remaining Championship matches finished in draws. Play-off chasers Sheffield Wednesday would have hoped to build on their 5-1 win against Norwich at the weekend, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw at home to Burton Albion.
Ross Wallace gave the Owls a 16th-minute lead, but Hillsborough was stunned eight minutes later when Jackson Irvine struck for the Brewers.
There were four more 1-1 draws. Steve McClaren’s Derby thought they were on their way to three points when Matej Vydra scored against Preston, but Tom Barkhuizen earned North End a point with an injury-time equaliser.
Fulham’s Tom Cairney also nabbed a stoppage time equaliser to prevent his side losing at home to Leeds, who had taken the lead through Tim Ream’s own goal.
Blackburn continued their fine run under new boss Tony Mowbray with a 1-1 home draw against Cardiff. The visitors went ahead through the in-form Kenneth Zohore, but Derrick Williams popped up in the 90th minute to earn Rovers a precious point.
Norwich put their Sheffield Wednesday horror show behind them by picking up a point at relegation-haunt- ed Bristol City. Yanic Wildschut gave the Canaries the lead, but Bristol City drew level courtesy of Bailey Wright with 12 minutes left.
Ipswich and Wolves played out a goalless draw at Portman Road.
HERO AND VILLANS: Tommy Smith strikes the Huddersfield winner against Villa
KNOCK, KNOCK: Brighton’s Anthony Knockaert celebrates scoring at Rotherham. Below, Solly March adds their second goal