Rafa Benitez reacts to Newcastle’s remarkable week on the road – and their seven-point haul

Jamaal Lascelles jumps for a high ball
Jamaal Lascelles jumps for a high ball
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Rafa Benitez hailed his Newcastle United players after they emerged from a tough run of away games with seven hard-fought Championship points.

Benitez’s side were held to a goalless draw by Reading at the Madejski Stadium last night.

The result followed away victories over promotion rivals Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town.

While Brighton cut Newcastle’s lead to three points by beating Rotherham United, Benitez feels his team – who entertain Fulham at St James’s Park on Saturday – have shown their “strength” during a tough and tiring three-game sequence.

And Benitez was happy with his team’s seven-point haul from the fixtures.

“If we finish in the top two, I will look back on these three games and think we did well, but if we don’t then I will be thinking about other things,” said Benitez.

“These seven points show we are strong enough to carry on. This division is complicated, you play a lot of games in a short space of time.

“It is not easy when you go away, you don’t have time to recover. I am pleased we will be at home on Saturday. It will be another top game.

“I want to send a message to stay behind the team. The fans need to push us in the right direction to get the points and get us to where we need to be.”

Newcastle had the better of the first half. They created a series of chances before the break, but Stam’s team fought back in the second half and Garath McCleary struck the crossbar in injury time.

“It is important to be solid,” said Benitez. “The team is consistent and knows what to do.

“If we can carry on with that mentality, then we will keep going. We had 13 attempts (on goal), and they had six. We knew they like to keep the ball. In the first half we had the better chances.

“I am happy. To go into these three games away and get seven points is quite good, especially for the players and their performances.”

United were backed by 4,000 fans at the Madejski Stadium.

“I am pleased for the away fans to put smiles on their faces,” said Benitez. “We had enough chances to score.

“We maybe lost two points, but we are happy with one point when you consider the crossbar at the end. When you consider our chances, we could have won the game.”