Dwight Gayle strike enough for Newcastle at Bristol City
Dwight Gayle netted a first-half winner as Newcastle beat Bristol City 1-0 in a fiercely-competitive Sky Bet Championship clash at Ashton Gate.
The striker, who turned down a move to City from Crystal Palace last summer, volleyed home from a defence-splitting Mohamed Diame pass in the 19th minute to make it back-to-back wins for the title favourites.
Gayle hardly had to break stride to send a left-footed finish past Richard O'Donnell having got between the home side's centre-backs to latch onto an inch-perfect ball.
City gave as good as they got in an entertaining clash between two attack-minded teams. Lee Tomlin was only just off target with an impudent chip from the edge of the box after five minutes and went on to show plenty more skilful touches.
Isaac Hayden was wide with a near-post header from Matt Ritchie's 15th-minute corner before Gayle's goal gave Newcastle further impetus.
Diame was a giant in midfield for Rafa Benitez in the first half, using his strength to rob opponents and set up several counter-attacks.
But City produced some promising moves themselves and Hordur Magnusson was unlucky to see his 25th-minute header from a Gary O'Neil free-kick inadvertently blocked by team-mate Aden Flint.
Newcastle goalkeeper Matz Sels saved bravely from Luke Freeman after spilling a cross and there was little to choose between the sides up to the break.
City started the second half well with Tomlin and Freeman having shots deflected for corners while Jonathan Kodjia failed to make proper contact with an enticing Freeman cross as pressure built on the Newcastle goal.
The visitors looked strong at the back and were prepared to throw bodies in the way of shots from distance.
Both sides made tactical switches after 65 minutes to add a forward player. Newcastle sent on Ayoze Perez for Diame and put him alongside Gayle while City introduced winger Callum O'Dowda for full-back Scott Golbourne and moved Kodjia from the right flank to partner Tammy Abraham.
Home fans in a 22,512 crowd - Ashton Gate's biggest for 26 years - did their best to rouse their side to a grandstand finish.
Magnusson was narrowly wide with a header from O'Neil's 82nd-minute corner as pouring rain made the pitch increasingly slick.
Newcastle were under constant pressure as the game reached its climax and Benitez made two more changes after 85 minutes, sending on Jonjo Shelvey for Hayden and Rolando Aarons for Gayle.
City came close again when Sels failed to gather a deflected cross and Kodjia grazed the crossbar with a right-footed volley.
On the balance of play the hosts deserved a point but Newcastle were rock solid at the back and rewarded their 2,500 travelling fans with a fully committed display.