Newcastle United looked to have knocked Brighton into a bit of a tailspin when beating them with two late goals at the Amex Stadium 11 days ago.
When Chris Hughton’s team the lost 3-0 at relegation strugglers Nottingham Forest, it looked like the wobble could be proving terminal.
However, a regulation 2-0 win at bottom club Rotherham was then followed up by a real demolition job against a hapless Steve McClaren Derby outfit on Friday night.
Completely dominating their opponents, Brighton showed their promotion focus is very much back on target, the stats showing 16 shots to Derby’s three and six on target compared to zero for the visitors.
It was a 19th clean sheet for Brighton and Murray, Baldock & Knoackert all scored, making it 42 goals between that forward trio – impressive statistics at both ends of the pitch.
Taking the form over the last 14 matches: Newcastle have 28 points, Brighton 26 points and Huddersfield 32 points.
So quite clear who is the overall form team of the trio but because of the overall season’s results, if you look at the league table below, it is Huddersfield who have the look of a team who are one wrong move away from making it very very difficult to bridge the gap.
They may have a game in hand (Wolves away on Tuesday 25 April – third last match of season) but if say Huddersfield lost today at Brentford, a minimum gap of nine points on both Brighton and Newcastle, plus the top two having an overwhelming goal difference advantage, would look a yawning chasm for David Wagner’s team to bridge.
Of course, we are only bothered about Newcastle United’s fortunes and a win against Fulham today would mean an advantage of between nine and twelve points over third place with nine matches for the Magpies remaining and the 80 points marked reached.
A suitable ending to 365 days in charge for Rafa Benitez.
Saturday’s matches involving the top six:
Aston Villa v Sheff Wed (Sat 3pm)
Brentford v Huddersfield (Sat 3pm)
Leeds v QPR (Sat 3pm)
Preston v Reading (Sat 3pm)
Newcastle v Fulham (Sat 3pm)