Newcastle close in on title
Newcastle all-but secured the Coca-Cola Championship title as Kevin Nolan's brace gave them a 2-1 victory at Reading.
Nolan struck twice before the break to take his tally to 18 for the season and put Chris Hughton's side nine points clear of second-placed West Brom with just three games left.
The Magpies also boast a superior goal difference so have one hand on the Championship trophy, but will need to make sweeping changes if they are to survive next season if this display is anything to go on.
Newcastle made a sloppy start but they took the lead in the 20th minute with their first real attack.
Goalkeeper Steve Harper sent a long ball forward which was helped on by Shola Ameobi to Nolan on the left-hand side of the penalty area. The former Bolton man showed great strength to hold off his marker before firing in an early left-foot shot which Adam Federici got a hand to but could not keep out.
It was Nolan's fourth goal in as many games this month and it energised the Magpies. Wayne Routledge should have made it two moments later but he stabbed wide after collecting Danny Guthrie's fine pass.
Reading regained the initiative after that however and controlled possession for the rest of the half without testing Harper. And they were made to pay when Nolan doubled his tally in the 42nd minute.
Again the goal came from nothing as Guthrie won the ball in midfield, ran in on goal and slid in Routledge who was overlapping on the right. Routledge delivered the perfect first-time cross for Nolan to volley in from no more than six yards.
Reading forced a flurry of corners and pulled a goal back in chaotic fashion in the 72nd minute. Shane Long had a header well saved, the ball ran free in the six-yard box and Jose Enrique smashed his clearance against Simpson, only to see the ball loop in.
Brian McDermott's side pushed on in search of an equaliser but Newcastle were able to see out the victory despite seven minutes of added time after Reading midfielder Brynjar Gunnarsson was carried off with a nasty-looking head injury.
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