Strikers Marlon Harewood and Shola Ameobi teamed up to fire Newcastle 10 points clear at the top of the Coca-Cola Championship with a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough.
Harewood's 16th-minute strike and Ameobi's 59th-minute header were enough to see off their derby rivals, who now trail the Magpies by 20 points after winning just one of their nine games since Gareth Southgate was sacked.
However, the Teessiders left St James' Park feeling hard done by in front of a crowd of 49,644 - a record for a Championship fixture - after their appeals for a push in the run-up to Harewood's goal and their claims for a first-half penalty went unanswered by referee Kevin Friend.
In a relatively even contest, the home side took their chances, while the visitors once again lacked the cutting edge to get anything from the game.
Boro started confidently and Leroy Lita headed over from Gary O'Neil's 12th-minute free-kick, but it was the Magpies who took the lead with 16 minutes gone after a dreadful challenge by Kitson an Alan Smith 25 yards out.
Ameobi got to Danny Guthrie's free-kick marginally ahead of keeper Brad Jones to head down for Harewood to stab the ball home from close range, with Boro appealing in vain for a push on Emanuel Pogatetz.
Alan Smith, who is yet to score for Newcastle, thumped a left-foot shot just wide three minutes later, and Kevin Nolan missed the target by a much greater margin with 29 minutes gone.
But Harper needed the help of the woodwork four minutes later when, after he had parried O'Neil's swerving free-kick, Isaiah Osbourne's scrambled follow-up hit Steven Taylor's arm before coming back off the post and dropping into the keeper's arms.
The Magpies started the second half at a much higher tempo than they had done the first, although Boro responded, again without unduly troubling the hosts, for whom Fabricio Coloccini and Taylor were in imperious form.
Jones got away with a glaring error with 54 minutes gone when he blasted a clearance straight at Harewood and saw the ball ricochet just wide of the unguarded net.
The Boro keeper had another let-off seconds later when Harewood failed to convert Jose Enrique's driven cross from point-blank range, and although the Teessiders broke at pace, Lita wasted the opportunity when he fired high and wide from a tight angle.
David Wheater headed across goal from O'Neil's 58th-minute free-kick, but Ameobi was not so wasteful seconds later when he climbed high above Wheater to power home Guthrie's cross.
Newcastle relaxed as time ran down, but Boro were in no mood to give up and Lita might have done better with 20 minutes remaining when he found space down the right, but blasted over.
Jones saved a late Guthrie free-kick at the second attempt and Pogatetz appeared to block Nolan's late effort with his arm, but the game was already won.
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