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Hughton hails 'quality' of second tier
Published : 01 Oct 2009 06:42:36
It took a 70th-minute equaliser from substitute Marlon Harewood - his first goal for the club since clinching a loan move from Aston Villa - to deny the visitors victory at St James' Park after they took the lead courtesy of Ben Watson's early strike. The Hoops played with a pace and accuracy of passing which at times left the Magpies grasping at thin air. But in the end, Harewood's strike secured a face-saving draw and left Newcastle three points clear at the top of the Championship table, although with Hughton insisting they can take nothing for granted. He said: "It's a big reminder for anybody of the quality in this league, the amount of games you need to play, and you are up against Championship-hardened teams who are used to playing the amount of games we are going to play. "It's a big reminder, and it's something we keep stressing to the players. "If I look at the games we have played so far this season, we have had to fight hard for everything we have got." QPR took the lead with just seven minutes gone when, after Jose Enrique had failed to clear his lines properly, Watson fired home with the help of a deflection off the unfortunate Steven Taylor. The home side should have been level within 13 minutes after they were awarded a penalty when Taylor blasted his shot against defender Damion Stewart's arm. However, with regular penalty-taker Shola Ameobi on the injured list, Danny Guthrie stepped up and struck the ball tamely to Radek Cerny's right, the keeper saving comfortably. Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan both went close with headers, but there was little doubt that the visitors were worth their half-time lead with Wayne Routledge and Watson running riot. To their credit, Newcastle re-grouped and got themselves back into it with 20 minutes remaining when Harewood stabbed home Carroll's header down at the far post. He might have won it nine minutes later, but could not turn fellow substitute Jonas Gutierrez's pull-back on goal, although that would have been harsh on the Londoners. Rangers boss Jim Magilton was delighted with his side's performance. He said: "A draw is probably a fair result. I am very proud of the players. To a man, they were outstanding. "I still think it's going to be a division where - we have seen results already this year - it's still going to be a pretty open division. "But if you look at the talent and the ability and the squad-depth of Newcastle, if you finish above them, you will be very close."