Newcastle edge closer to promotion but Rotherham are relegated to League One

John Ashdown
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Newcastle United’s Matt Ritchie scores their second goal in the 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic as Rafa Benítez’s side went 10 points clear of Huddersfield in third.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Craig Brough/Reuters</span>
Newcastle United’s Matt Ritchie scores their second goal in the 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic as Rafa Benítez’s side went 10 points clear of Huddersfield in third. Photograph: Craig Brough/Reuters


• After three games without a victory Newcastle United returned to winning ways with a 2-1 home victory over Wigan Athletic thanks to Matt Ritchie’s second-half header. United stay top despite second-placed Brighton’s win over Blackburn and the top two were given a further boost when Burton Albion’s Jackson Irvine scored a 96th minute winner at Huddersfield. That goal means Newcastle move 10 points clear of the third-placed Terriers.

• With Leeds (fourth) and Reading (fifth) in the late kick-off the big movers in the play-off picture were Fulham, who took advantage of Sheffield Wednesday’s lunchtime draw at Barnsley to slip past the Owls and into sixth with a win over hapless Rotherham. That result, Rotherham’s 30th defeat of the season, means they are relegated with seven games still to play.

• With the other sides in the bottom three – Wigan and Blackburn – failing to upset the odds against the top two, the chance was there for their fellow strugglers to pull away. Burton did just that, as did Wolves with a 3-1 win over Cardiff City, but Bristol City remain in danger after a 2-0 defeat at Brentford and Nottingham Forest were pegged back at Preston North End.

League One

• The league leaders Sheffield United were not in action but it proved a productive afternoon for the Blades regardless. Second-placed Bolton Wanderers – who paid tribute to their former striker Ivan Klasnic, currently awaiting a third kidney transplant, at the Macron Stadium – were held to a 0-0 draw by second-bottom Chesterfield, while third-bottom Swindon Town stunned third-placed Fleetwood thanks to a Nicky Ajose winner.

Scunthorpe, for so long the leaders in the automatic promotion race, saw their grip on a play-off place loosened further with a 3-1 defeat at Millwall, whose own play-off push was dented by home wins for Southend United and Bradford City.

• At the bottom defeats for Oldham, Gillingham and Shrewsbury left Port Vale as the day’s big winners, with a 2-0 victory over AFC Wimbledon lifting Michael Brown’s side to 18th.

League Two

• Doncaster could have sealed promotion on Saturday had results gone their way but though Rovers did their part – by crushing Grimsby 5-1 at Blundell Park – the champagne remains on ice for a week at least. Stevenage’s win over Barnet and Luton’s 1-0 win over play-off rivals Blackpool were enough to deny Darren Ferguson’s side, though the delay is surely only temporary.

Rovers did however extend their lead at the top to six points thanks to second-placed Plymouth Argyle’s home defeat to Accrington. Stanley were out of the relegation zone by just three points at the end of January but a 12-game unbeaten streak (and six wins in eight) have lifted them to mid-table.

Things go from bad to worse at Leyton Orient. Their manager Danny Webb quit in midweek after just two months in the job, they sit bottom of the Football League and by half-time against Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday they were down to 10 men and 2-0 down with their new manager, Omer Riza, sent to the stands. Towards the end of the game Orient fans unveiled a banner that read simply: “Bollocks.” And you can’t really argue with that.

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