FOOTBALL : Newcastle climbed back to the top of the Coca-Cola Championship but needed a lucky own goal from Sheffield United skipper Chris Morgan to secure a 1-0 win.
Newcastle climbed back to the top of the Coca-Cola Championship but needed a lucky own goal from Sheffield United skipper Chris Morgan to secure a 1-0 win.
Morgan inadvertently deflected Ryan Taylor’s low 25-yard shot past stranded Blades goalkeeper Ian Bennett in the 54th minute to hand manager Chris Hughton a telling win in his first game since being given the job on a permanent basis.
But it was another miserable result for opposite number Kevin Blackwell, whose injury-hit side were denied by Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper’s world class save in the closing stages and have now lost their last four league matches.
On another night Leicestershire referee Kevin Friend might have penalised Newcastle’s Kevin Nolan for his full-blooded tackle on Kyle Walker before Taylor pounced on the loose ball.
The Blades slipped to 15th place, leapfrogged by arch-rivals Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, and the former Leeds and Luton manager will now fear renewed pressure from the impatient Blades faithful.
Blades striker Ched Evans was inches wide with his angled shot after bustling on to Bennett’s long clearance as a highly-combative first period – Morgan and Newcastle pair Andy Carroll and Taylor were all booked for fouls – ended goalless.
Newcastle took the lead in fortuitous circumstances in the 54th minute.
Referee Friend adjudged Nolan’s thumping challenge on Walker to be fair and with the defender prostrate, Taylor pounced on to the ball in space 25 yards from goal and unleashed a low right-footed shot that took a big deflection off Morgan to wrong-foot Bennett and nestle into the goalkeeper’s bottom left-hand corner.
Evans’ low free-kick was hoofed clear by Butt and visiting goalkeeper Harper blocked Henderson close-range effort.
Harper finished strongly – smothering Treacy’s shot in injury time and then brilliantly denying Darius Henderson’s point-blank header as Newcastle held on.