Newcastle hit top note after Carroll service

Newcastle United 4 Coventry City 1
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The Independent Football

The England Under-21s striker Andrew Carroll confirmed his growing importance to Newcastle United's promotion ambitions with another match-winning intervention at St James.

For the second time in four days the towering front man, carved in the mould of Newcastle's favourite son Alan Shearer, was the catalyst as Chris Hughton's side returned to the top of the Championship.

After surviving an unconvincing first half, Carroll eased the apprehension of Newcastle supporters by applying an emphatic headed finish to Kevin Nolan's cross on 53 minutes to send his side another step closer to a Premier League return. It was hardly achieved with free-flowing football until they relaxed after the interval, but functionality suits Newcastle just fine these days, although Hughton wants to see the style that has brought nine goals in two home games travelling with them.

Hughton said: "We certainly need to take some of our home form into away games to make sure we achieve what we want this season."

But Coventry looked to have more cutting edge in the opening stages and a scuffed close range shot from Clinton Morrison, never the most elegant of strikers, threatened to deepen Newcastle's crisis of confidence in the 35th minute. St James' Park collectively inhaled but by the time they had exhaled they were level, Wayne Routledge, subdued up to that point, guiding home a right footed volley from 25 yards.

All doubt was removed on 69 minutes when Routledge was checked by Leon Barnett. Referee Steve Tanner dismissed the defender and Lovenkrands swept home the spot kick. Substitute Ryan Taylor added a fourth.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Harper; Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, van Aanholt; Routledge (R. Taylor 81), Guthrie, Nolan, Gutierrez (Pancrate 81); Lovenkrands (Best 73), Carroll. Substitutes not used: Krul (gk), Hall, Smith, Ranger.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Westwood; Wright, Barnett, Wood, Cranie; Baker, Clingan, Deegan (Gunnarsson 75), McIndoe, Morrison (Sears 71), Eastwood (Stead 56). Substitutes not used: Konstantopoulos (gk),Turner, Gunnarsson, Hussey, Grandison.

Referee: S Tanner (Somerset).