London (AFP) – Newcastle chalked up a sixth successive victory as the Championship leaders cemented their position with a 2-1 win at Preston on Saturday.
Just days after routing Preston in the League Cup, Rafael Benitez’s side were made to work harder at Deepdale but eventually emerged with the points.
Aleksandar Mitrovic struck just before the hour mark to put Newcastle ahead.
Serbian forward Mitrovic netted again in the 71st minute to add to his brace against Preston in midweek before Jermaine Beckford pulled one back to ensure a tense finish for Newcastle.
Second placed Brighton are three points behind Newcastle after they hammered promotion rivals Norwich 5-0 at the Amex Stadium.
The Seagulls are unbeaten in nine league games thanks to Glenn Murray’s hat-trick and further goals from Lewis Dunk and Anthony Knockaert.
Huddersfield, who led the table for several weeks, are third after a dismal 5-0 defeat at Fulham.
The Terriers have now lost three of their last four games and are three points adrift of Brighton after Fulham’s Chris Martin helped himself to a double.
Tomas Kalas, Lucas Piazon and Kevin McDonald also scored as the Cottagers eased to victory.
Reading moved into the play-off places as goals from Garath McCleary and Chris Gunter sealed a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest.
Bristol City also maintained their place in the top six with a 2-2 draw against Barnsley.
Lee Tomlin’s penalty cancelled out Marley Watkins’ opener for Barnsley.
Tammy Abraham, enjoying a superb season on loan from Chelsea, restored City’s lead in the 76th minute, but Adam Hammill’s stoppage-time goal salvaged a point from the hosts.
Sheffield Wednesday slipped out of the play-off positions as struggling Derby boosted their survival chances with a 2-0 win at the iPro Stadium.
Cyrus Christie and Alex Pearce scored the goals for Steve McClaren’s team.
Chris Wood and Souleymane Doukara were on the scoresheet as Leeds eased to a 2-0 home victory over Burton.
Jordi Gomez fired a late winner at Cardiff as managerless Wigan picked up just their second Championship victory in 13 games.
The Latics, who sacked Gary Caldwell as boss on Tuesday, beat the Bluebirds 1-0 but are still stuck in the relegation zone.
Rotherham remain rooted to the bottom of the table after conceding a late equaliser against Ipswich in a dramatic 2-2 draw.
Freddie Sears opened the scoring for Ipswich before Danny Ward’s double helped Kenny Jackett’s team to the lead.