Football

Newcastle stay focused on the brink

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Newcastle boss Chris Hughton will focus only on victory at Peterborough on Saturday despite seeing his side take themselves to the brink of an instant return to the Barclays Premier League.

The Magpies will head for London Road sitting 13 points clear of third-placed Nottingham Forest, after their 2-0 win over Billy Davies' men at St James' Park on Monday, and needing a maximum of two more wins from their remaining seven games to clinch promotion.

Should they take all three points at Peterborough and Forest lose a Bristol City, they will be up by Saturday evening.

Asked if he has set his players the task of reaching the 100-point mark - they currently have 83 - he said: "There are no targets. The only target we have is to get promotion.

"A points achievement that goes with it, any other accolades that go with it, we will gladly accept. But our only target is to get promotion."

That now looks a racing certainty after goals from substitute Shola Ameobi and Jose Enrique - the first of the Spaniard's professional career - coupled with a 20th clean sheet of the season increased Newcastle's lead over second-placed West Brom to four points.

Ameobi's 71st-minute strike set the ball rolling after he had replaced the injured Andy Carroll and left Hughton bemoaning his regular absences this season.

The manager said: "Shola is an excellent player and a wonderful finisher, a really wonderful finisher. It's just really disappointing that we have missed out on his services for such a large chunk of the season.

"But Shola will always score goals."

Enrique's second in stoppage time came after Forest keeper Lee Camp, who had earlier kept out Carroll's 12th-minute volley, denied Wayne Routledge, Danny Guthrie and Kevin Nolan as the home side finally made the pressure tell.

The full-time whistle sparked delighted celebrations, but Hughton is confident none of his players will think the job is already done.

He said: "An honest opinion? No, I don't see that happening. It's a very professional changing room that we have and what we are aware of is the moment you think you are there, you can lose a football match - and if you lose a football match, it all changes again."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Newcastle United
Jose Enrique
Shola Ameobi

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