Whilst the January transfer window ebbed away, Newcastle United found their Championship lead over third place cut to only three points on Tuesday night.
Reading won 1-0 away at Birmingham and are now clear third on 55 points, although they have played two more games than Newcastle and Brighton.
Elsewhere, Barnsley lost at home to Wolves and Sheffield Wednesday could only draw at Bristol City, whilst Derby crept into sixth ahead of the pair of them.
Tuesday 31 January
Barnsley 1 Wolves 3
Birmingham 0 Reading 1
Bristol City 2 Sheffield Wednesday 2
Ipswich 0 Derby 3
Looking at the table below, when it comes to the automatic promotion places, you have to think that Derby, Sheff Wed and Barnsley (6th, 7th and 8th) are no longer realistic threats to the top two. They are all at least 12 points behind Newcastle and have played at least one match more.
I know you can never say never but it does look as though it is down to Huddersfield, Leeds and Reading to provide the threat.
The last 16 matches have seen reading win 12 and lose four, considering their scarce resources you have to admire the fight they are putting up.
However, wins for Newcastle in these upcoming two home matches would leave them at a minimum six points ahead of Reading and with a game in hand, meanwhile even if Leeds won their two games they would still trail Newcastle by seven points (if NUFC won both of their matches) and once again the Magpies with a game in hand.
Fifth place Huddersfield face both Leeds and Brighton in these next two matches so points are going to go astray somewhere.
This does feel like a pivotal time, with Newcastle able to ease away a little bit more if they hold their nerve, regardless of what happens elsewhere.
60 Brighton (GD+25) Played 27
58 Newcastle (+33) Played 27
55 Reading (+5) Played 29
51 Leeds (+12) Played 28
49 Huddersfield (+2) Played 27
46 Derby (+9) Played 28
46 Sheffield Wednesday (+5) Played 28
44 Barnsley (+4) Played 29
Wednesday 1 February
Blackburn v Leeds
Newcastle v QPR
Thursday 2 February
Huddersfield v Brighton
Friday 3 February
Wigan v Sheff Wed
Saturday 4 February
Barnsley v Preston
Ipswich v Reading
Newcastle v Derby
Sunday 5th February
Huddersfield v Leeds
Brentford v Brighton
(Newcastle United’s current upcoming schedule below)
Wednesday 1 February – Newcastle v QPR (7.45pm) – SKY SPORTS
Saturday 4 February – Newcastle v Derby (3pm)
Saturday 11 February – Wolves v Newcastle (5.30pm) – SKY SPORTS
Tuesday 14 February – Norwich v Newcastle (7.45pm)
Monday 20 February – Newcastle v Aston Villa (8pm) – SKY SPORTS
Saturday 25 February – Newcastle v Bristol City (3pm)
Tuesday 28 February – Brighton v Newcastle (7.45pm) – SKY SPORTS
Saturday 4 March – Huddersfield v Newcastle (5.30pm) – SKY SPORTS
Tuesday 7 March – Reading v Newcastle (7.45pm)
Saturday 11 March – Newcastle v Fulham (3pm)
Saturday 18 March – Birmingham v Newcastle (3pm)
(Then a two week international break follows, before Newcastle v Wigan on Saturday 1 April)