Reading 0 Newcastle United 0: Benitez's side held at the Madejski Stadium

Paul McShane denies Yoan Gouffran
Paul McShane denies Yoan Gouffran
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Newcastle United's lead at the top of the Championship was cut to three points tonight.

Rafa Benitez's side were held to a goalless draw at the Madejski Stadium by fifth-placed Reading.

Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town, in second and third place respectively, both won their games to narrow Newcastle's lead ahead of Saturday's home game against Fulham.

United created a series of first-half chances, but they couldn't find a way past Reading goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi.

Gouffran forced two saves and was denied a certain goal by Paul McShane after Matt Ritchie struck the inside of the post.

Jaap Stam's side, however, fought back strongly after the break and dominated the ball.

Newcastle retreated deeper in their own half, and manager Benitez sent on Dwight Gayle – who had come off the bench to score in the club's 3-1 win over Huddersfield three days earlier – for the last 15 minutes.

But there was to be no late goal for either side, though Lewis Grabban struck the crossbar in injury time.

And United ended their run of three tough away games with an impressive haul of seven points.

READING: Al-Habsi, Gunter, Blackett, McShane, Moore (Obita, 50), Van den Berg, Kelly (Williams, 46), Mutch, McCleary, Grabban, Kermorgant. Subs not used: Evans, Beerens, Swift, Popa, Jaakkola.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Darlow; Gamez, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett; Shelvey, Colback (Diame, 88); Ritchie, Perez, Gouffran (Atsu, 68); Murphy (Gayle, 75). Subs not used: Elliot, Hanley, Mbemba, Anita.

Referee: Andy Davies (Hampshire)

Attendance: 23,121