Barton's joy as Newcastle close in on promotion

Peterborough 2 Newcastle United 3: Midfielder's goal on comeback means club can seal Premier League return today

Joey Barton wouldn't be everyone's choice as a late invite to a party, as the team-mate who received a cigar in the eye at Manchester City's 2004 Christmas bash would no doubt testify, but the midfielder has timed his comeback from injury perfectly to coincide with Newcastle's promotion celebrations.

The 27-year-old marked his first start since suffering a broken foot in September by scoring his side's second goal in the 3-2 win at Peterborough on Saturday, which means an instant return to the Premier League is imminent.

The inevitable looks set to be confirmed tonight when Sheffield United are the visitors to St James' Park, where only a point is needed for champagne and brown ale bottles to be opened across the city. Indeed, it could even happen before kick-off if Nottingham Forest, who possess a merely theoretical chance of overhauling them, drop points in their home game with Cardiff City earlier in the day.

Barton is likely to be back on the bench as Chris Hughton, the manager, rewards players who have been more regular contributors, but the former England man, capped once three years ago, was not complaining. Instead, he dedicated his 48th-minute free-kick to Newcastle's medical staff, having celebrated it on the touchline with physiotherapists Dave Henderson and Derek Wright and doctor Paul Catterson.

"They have spent a lot of time with me to get it right so that goal was for them," he said. "They were probably sick of me come the end but they were great with me and I thank them for that. I'm delighted to be back and it was great to get a start. It has been a long, hard road for me toiling away in the gym.

"But moments like this are what it's about and are worth the hard work that goes into getting back. I still feel like I can get a lot sharper and show what I'm about. But it's just great to be back for now and is a privilege to come back into this squad."

Barton's previous indiscretions ensured he was barracked by the home fans at London Road but his earlier attempts at putting a free-kick in the right place had all deserved catcalls. "After all the ones he took before, we were all surprised to see that one go in," Hughton admitted.

Indeed, Newcastle were made to work hard for the three points by the Championship's bottom side, who expect their relegation to be confirmed at Barnsley today.

Dominic Green gave Posh an 11th-minute lead after Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper collided with one of his own defenders. Kevin Nolan equalised in first-half stoppage time but it came against the run of play. Barton's set-piece success changed that story and Shola Ameobi's effort from outside the box made it 3-1.

Peterborough did not give up, though, and were rewarded with a consolation from Liam Dickinson, although the striker soon had to go off with a hamstring injury, forcing his side to finish with 10 men as all three replacements had been used.

Dickinson, who is on loan from Brighton and likely to be leaving along with manager Jim Gannon at the end of the season, admitted it had been a thrill to have played against some of the Newcastle players.

"I'm a big Man United fan so to play against Alan Smith was brilliant," he said. "I didn't get a chance to speak to him, though, because I was off down the tunnel to ice the hamstring."

Peterborough (4-1-4-1): Lewis; Gilbert, Zakuani, Geohaghon, Griffiths; Lee (Bennett, 55); Frecklington, Torres (Mackail-Smith, 46), Rowe, Green (Simpson, 46); Dickinson. Substitutes not used: McKeown (gk), Day, Mills, Reid.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Harper; Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Enrique; Pancrate (Routledge, 46), Smith, Nolan, Barton (Gutierrez, 84); Best, Ameobi (Butt, 83). Substitutes not used: Lovenkrands, Taylor, Krul (gk), Kadar.

Referee: M Haywood (West Yorkshire).

Booked: Peterborough Zakuani; Newcastle Best, Gutierrez.

Man of the match: Nolan.

Attendance: 12,877.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
i100(More than you think)
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit