Championship round-up: Newcastle crash at home to Fulham
Daryl Horgan on target again as Preston continue march to playoffs
Daryl Horgan scores Preston North End’s second goal during the Championship match against Reading at Deepdale. Photograph: Clint Hughes/PA Wire
Championship round-up: Rafael Benitez suffered an anniversary to forget as Newcastle crashed to a 3-1 defeat to Fulham.
Twelve months to the day since he agreed to take over at St James’ Park, Benitez watched his side suffer their joint-heaviest league defeat of the season as Tom Cairney’s early opener was followed by two second-half goals from Ryan Sessegnon.
Newcastle, who claimed a second-half consolation through Republic of Ireland striker Daryl Murphy, remain on top of the Championship, but the result means they are only ahead of Brighton on goal difference and are now just six points clear of third-placed Huddersfield.
Fulham are two points adrift of the play-off places, but boast a game in hand on all bar one of the sides in the top six and appear to be peaking at just the right time.
Newcastle’s home form is a growing source of concern for Benitez, with the Magpies now having suffered five league defeats at St James’.
Former Dundalk winger Daryl Horgan was on the scoresheet again as Preston continued their march towards the playoffs with a 3-0 win over Reading at Deepdale.
Tom Barkhuizen grabbed a double to make it four goals in his last three games as the Royals slipped to their third loss in five games.
Barkhuizen gave the Lilywhites the lead from Horgan’s assist and the striker returned the favour when he set up Horgan after a brilliant run just before the break.
Preston grabbed their third when Horgan’s 49th-minute free-kick was headed across goal by Boyle and Barkhuizen prodded home his second.
Promotion chasers Huddersfield closed the gap on the top two to six points with a hard fought 1-0 win at Brentford.
Rajiv van La Parra’s freak goal just before the half-hour mark was the difference between two good footballing sides.
Brentford’s defence fell asleep and – when a quickly-taken free-kick found Van La Parra wide on the left – the Dutch winger’s fierce cross-shot was punched into the net by Bees goalkeeper Daniel Bentley for a winner that may have the dubious goals panel scratching their heads.
It was no more than Town deserved for a spirited, energetic and technically-impressive performance against Dean Smith’s in-form Brentford.
Promotion-chasing Leeds United missed the chance to keep up the pressure on the top two after being held to a goalless draw by QPR.
The Yorkshireman failed to get into their stride against a dogged Rangers side and are now 11 points off the automatic promotion places.
It was the Londoners who enjoyed the better of the chances, with Conor Washington wasting great chances either side of the break to snatch the win.
The Whites, who have now drawn two in a row, created few clear-cut chances with the Rangers defenders keeping dangerman Chris Wood silent throughout.
Aston Villa dented Sheffield Wednesday’s play-off hopes with a 2-0 win thanks to two goals from striker Jonathan Kodjia.
It was a big setback for Wednesday who played with only 10 men for most of the second half after Vincent Sasso received a red card
The sending off of Sasso for a heavy tackle on Irish midfielder Conor Hourihane on the halfway line effectively killed off any hopes of them completing the double over Villa.
The Frenchman, who had been recruited from the Portuguese club Braga, could have no complaints. Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal did complain and was sent to the stands.
Wednesday now have only one win in five games after Kodjia took his tally for the season to 15 with his latest brace of goals.
Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich struck late to snatch a 1-1 draw at Barnsley.
The home side created the better goal-scoring opportunities in the game, and struck first through Marley Watkins after 58 minutes. Ipswich striker Tom Lawrence then managed to score in injury time and rescue a point.
Lucas Joao came off the bench to inspire a Blackburn comeback at managerless Norwich but it was only enough to earn them a 2-2 draw.
The Portuguese striker struck twice in four minutes to cancel out a first half effort from Cameron Jerome.
But the Canaries, who had played the final 70 minutes with 10 men after the sending off of defender Mitchell Dijks, refused to submit and Jerome fired home his second in the 80th minute to secure a hard-earned point.
Norwich performed well less than 24 hours after the sacking of Alex Neil, but two more dropped points dealt another blow to their fading play-off hopes while for Rovers it was a useful point in their battle to stay in the division.
Lucas Jutkiewicz grabbed a last-minute leveller to ease the pressure on under-fire Birmingham boss Gianfranco Zola in a 1-1 draw at Cardiff.
Joe Ralls’s sixth goal of the season from the penalty spot after 53 minutes appeared to have piled further misery on Zola.
But Jutkiewicz rescued Birmingham when he headed Che Adams’s cross goalwards, the ball inadvertently coming back off the burly striker from Allan McGregor’s save.
Wolves eased their relegation worries with a nervy 1-0 victory over Rotherham, whose miserable season has entered record-breaking territory.
Andreas Weimann’s goal in first-half injury time was enough for Paul Lambert’s side to win their first game in eight and remain a point above the drop zone.
It was far from an impressive performance from Wolves, who missed a penalty in the first half, but the result was the most important thing as they enjoyed all three points for the first time since January.
For Rotherham, this was their 28th defeat of a horrid campaign, which breaks their club-record for a 46-game season, while an 18th loss on the road also equals their worst ever.
Defender Aden Flint popped up with the only goal two minutes from time to give Bristol City a crucial 1-0 win at fellow strugglers Wigan.
With both sides in the bottom three before kick-off, it was a predictably tight game of few chances at the DW Stadium.
But with time almost up, Flint stabbed home from a yard to lift City out of the drop zone at Blackburn’s expense and leave Wigan four points adrift of safety with only nine games to go.
Cauley Woodrow fired home his third Burton goal of the season to grab a precious 1-0 victory against Nottingham Forest.
The Fulham loanee swept home a free-kick on 26 minutes after Jackson Irvine had been upended by Joe Worrall following a sweeping Burton move.
The ball went through a poorly constructed and flimsy Forest wall and left goalkeeper Jordan Smith flapping as the strike flew past him.