Nolan brace seals Toon victory

Newcastle United all-but secured the Championship title as Kevin Nolan's brace gave them a 2-1 victory at Reading on Tuesday night.

Last Updated: 13/04/10 at 22:19 Post Comment

Nolan (right): Celebrates one of his goals with Guthrie

Nolan (right): Celebrates one of his goals with Guthrie

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Nolan struck twice before the break to take his tally to 18 for the season and put Chris Hughton's side nine points clear of second-placed West Brom with just three games left.

The Magpies also boast a superior goal difference so have one hand on the Championship trophy, but will need to make sweeping changes if they are to survive next season if this display is anything to go on.

Hughton's men were poor in the first 45 minutes while still taking a two-goal lead thanks to the clinical Nolan, but are on course to rack up 100 points.

They barely improved in the second period but despite an own goal by full-back Danny Simpson, they held on for three more points.

The win was roared on by nearly 4,000 fans who had made the 600-mile round trip to Berkshire for a night of celebration.

Hughton's side may be hopeful of clocking up a century of points but the home crowd was quick to remind the masses of away fans that the Royals' record haul of 106 points amassed four years ago will not be beaten this season.

This Reading vintage may not live up to the 2005-06 side but they started well, with Shane Long and Jimmy Kebe both threatening to get in behind the defence.

Long came close 10 minutes in when he beat Steve Harper to a bouncing pass but was unable to find the net from an acute angle.

Harper and Fabricio Coloccini then made a mess of clearing the ball as Newcastle made a sloppy start. They had been poor but took the lead in the 20th minute with their first real attack.

Harper sent a long ball forward which was helped on by Shola Ameobi to Nolan on the left-hand side of the penalty area.

The former Bolton man showed great strength to hold off his marker before firing in an early left-foot shot which Adam Federici got a hand to but could not keep out.

It was Nolan's fourth goal in as many games this month and it energised the Magpies.

Wayne Routledge should have made it two moments later but he stabbed wide after collecting Danny Guthrie's fine pass.

Reading regained the initiative after that however and controlled possession for the rest of the half without testing Harper.

And they were made to pay when Nolan doubled his tally in the 42nd minute.

Again the goal came from nothing as Guthrie won the ball in midfield, ran in on goal and slid in Routledge who was overlapping on the right.

Routledge delivered the perfect first-time cross for Nolan to volley in from no more than six yards.

Coloccini came off at half-time and it was Reading who came close to an early goal, Gylfi Sigurdsson volleying over from the edge of the box.

Nolan then wasted a great chance for his hat-trick when he headed another sublime Routledge cross against the near post before Routledge came close with a deflected effort that looped over.

Reading forced a flurry of corners and pulled a goal back in chaotic fashion in the 72nd minute.

Long had a header well saved, the ball ran free in the six-yard box and Jose Enrique smashed his clearance against Simpson, only to see the ball loop in.

Brian McDermott's side pushed on in search of an equaliser but Newcastle were able to see out the victory despite seven minutes of added time after Reading midfielder Brynjar Gunnarsson was carried off with a nasty-looking head injury.

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