Hughton silent over Carroll drama
Magpies manager Chris Hughton refused to answer any questions on the incident after seeing his side extend their unbeaten run to nine league matches and extend their lead at the top of the Championship to five points. Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is understood to have launched an internal inquiry into the latest controversy after Newcastle defender Steven Taylor was admitted to Newcastle General Hospital over the weekend nursing a broken jaw. But Gateshead-born Carroll, who faces a Crown Court appearance next month on an assault charge in connection with a separate incident at a city night-spot last December, shrugged off the latest storm to cloud his burgeoning career. The 21-year-old, whose 16th goal of the season eclipsed another impressive showing by Sean O'Driscoll's Doncaster, galloped on to Wayne Routledge's incisive pass, brushed off Doncaster defender James O'Connor's challenge and steered a right-footed shot beyond home goalkeeper Neil Sullivan in the 59th minute. Hughton, clearly delighted his players had appeared unaffected by the latest incident to cloud St James' Park, said: "The team have been focused all season. "Everybody is aware of things. We have carried the pressure of being top all season and the pressures that go with that. This team is very focused. "Andy Carroll is a player in very good goalscoring form at the moment. "He's one that we've continually said had to add goals to his game and he's certainly providing that for us. "Andy was part of the XI. We're always working on selection, but he's a player on very good form. He's a vital player for us." Hughton said the club's record 19th clean sheet in a season was a tribute to goalkeeper Steve Harper and spared a word for Doncaster, who have made a lasting impression on the former Tottenham defender. Hughton added: "It was a very tough game as expected. This (Doncaster) side is a wonderful footballing side, coping far better with this division. "They keep possession and use the space very well. They gave us a real test." Doncaster manager Sean O'Driscoll had no complaints with his side's display, but could not hide his disappointment as their first defeat in seven league matches leaves them six points adrift of the play-offs. O'Driscoll said: "It was a tight game. We were excellent off the ball and stopped them getting any rhythm, which was important. "They had to fight for everything and we had to be brave on the ball and I thought we were. "We mixed it up really well, I'm just disappointed we didn't get a result." O'Driscoll confirmed referee Keith Hill's assistant had been right to flag for offside as Billy Sharp rammed home a rebound soon after Carroll's decisive second-half strike. O'Driscoll added: "He was right, by a smidgen. It was just offside and to be fair the linesman was alert and got it right."
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