London (AFP) – A double by Dwight Gayle propelled Newcastle to a 3-1 win over 10-man Nottingham Forest and back to the top of the second-tier Championship on Friday.
Newcastle’s cause had been aided by fog forcing the postponement of overnight leaders Brighton’s home game with struggling Cardiff.
The Magpies — bidding for an immediate return to the Premier League — hold a one-point advantage over Brighton but having played a game more.
Newcastle’s match was almost as ill-tempered as their earlier fixture between the two teams — the leaders having two players dismissed in the first game which Forest won 2-1 — but Gayle’s class was the telling factor.
Matt Ritchie put the hosts 1-0 up early on only for Forest’s Nicolao Dumitru to level in the first-half.
However, Forest’s hopes of achieving the double over Newcastle and more importantly some much-needed points in their battle for survival dipped when Matt Mills was sent off after a second booking on the hour mark.
Gayle, who dropped down a division when he signed from Crystal Palace in the close season, restored Newcastle’s lead with a smart volley and ensured the three points with a scrappy second for his 19th of the season.
Third-placed Reading were unable to put any pressure on the top two — the only ones automatically promoted — as their home game against Fulham was abandoned due to fog.
They remain eight points adrift of Brighton and a point better off than a resurgent Leeds side, who missed their chance to go third and make it four wins from four when they were pegged back to a 1-1 draw by Aston Villa on Thursday.
A late penalty by Jonathan Kodjia forced a share of the spoils although Leeds will count themselves unlucky not to have taken all three points having hit the crossbar twice after they had taken the lead in the second-half through Pontus Jansson.