Championship Review: Brighton close the gap as Newcastle draw a blank
Brighton and Hove Albion reignited the Championship title race on Tuesday as they took advantage of a frustrating night for Newcastle United to cut the gap at the top to three points.
After back-to-back defeats - including a -2-1 home loss to Newcastle - it appeared that Brighton's title push was coming to a stuttering halt, but second-half goals from Anthony Knockaert and Solly March secured a 2-0 win over Rotherham United.
Meanwhile at the Madejski Stadium, Newcastle dominated their clash with Reading but found Ali Al-Habsi in fine form, Reading somehow holding onto a 0-0 draw.
Behind the top two Huddersfield Town moved three points clear in third thanks to a 1-0 win over Aston Villa, while their nearest rivals Leeds United conceded a late equaliser against Fulham.
Sheffield Wednesday were also frustrated as battling Burton Albion earned a point at Hillsborough, while Wigan Athletic's survival hopes were boosted by a 1-0 victory against Gianfranco Zola's Birmingham City.
SEAGULLS FIND THEIR WINGS, MAGPIES HAVE THEIRS CLIPPED
While Newcastle were being frustrated by Reading, the same was happening to Brighton in a tight opening half with bottom club Rotherham.
The Seagulls were not to be denied, though, as Knockaert put the visitors in control soon after the break with a 48th-minute opener.
March completed the win 11 minutes from time, and Brighton's mood was boosted as Newcastle only managed to take a point against Reading.
Despite peppering Al-Habsi's goal with 13 shots there was no way past the Oman international, the post coming to his rescue to deny Matt Ritchie as the leaders saw two points go begging.
MORE MISERY FOR ZOLA
Since replacing Gary Rowett in December life has not been going well for Zola, the Italian overseeing just two wins 15 league matches.
A third was not forthcoming at St Andrews either as strugglers Wigan Athletic moved to within two points of safety thanks to Dan Burn's 19th minute strike - his first goal for the club.
The Latics fans are still here and singing. Cries of DAN BURN IS SUPERMAN echo around St Andrews #wafc-- Wigan Athletic (@LaticsOfficial) March 7, 2017
Sadly for Zola it was a 11th defeat in charge of the Blues and leaves them languishing in 17th place, still looking over their shoulder at the relegation zone.
LATE LEVELLERS...BUT NOT FOR FOREST
There was plenty of late drama on Tuesday at both ends of the table.
Struggling Blackburn Rovers lifted themselves above Wolves with a 1-1 draw against Cardiff City, Tony Mowbray's men needing a 90th-minute Derrick Williams effort to salvage a point.
WOW WILLIAMS! pic.twitter.com/J7ecEFrhtQ-- Blackburn Rovers (@Rovers) March 7, 2017
Their Lancashire neighbours Preston North End were also at it at Pride Park as Tom Barkhuizen cancelled out Matej Vydra's opener for Derby County in the 94th minute.
At Craven Cottage Leeds looked on course for a morale-boosting win against Fulham, but Kalvin Phillips' red card sparked a late revival from the hosts and Tom Cairney earned a 1-1 draw.
Nottingham Forest tried their best to get in on the action after falling 3-0 behind against Brentford but, despite Ben Brereton and Zach Clough's late strikes, they could not complete the recovery.