Spritely Rangers put a dent in Newcastle's home record

Newcastle United 1 Queen's Park Rangers 1
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The Independent Football

The collective malaise sweeping the summit of the Championship spread to the North-east, as Newcastle United squandered an opportunity to open up a five-point lead at the top.

They were indebted to a second-half equaliser from Marlon Harewood, the Aston Villa loan forward, who bundled in Andy Carroll's knock-down shortly after coming on as substitute on the hour, to ensure their unbeaten home record remains in tact.

The topsy-turvy nature of this division was highlighted as the leaders failed to fully capitalise on defeat for their three nearest rivals on Tuesday. Ben Watson's deflected early effort for Queen's Park Rangers helps keep Newcastle within touching range for the pursuing pack, in which the London club can now class themselves, after showing commendable character to overcome the concession of a first-half penalty.

Rangers might even have been reflecting on a first victory at St James' Park in 15 years had Damion Stewart's second-half header not drifted narrowly wide, while Jay Simpson also saw an effort scrambled off the line as Chris Hughton's side were at times made to look pedestrian.

To his credit Hughton has fashioned a side ingrained with resolve, and thanks in part to the introduction of Jonas Gutierrez, they deservedly drew level as Harewood made an impact on his home debut. "To perform like that's very pleasing and I'm proud of the players," Jim Magilton, the QPR manager, said after watching his side stretch to half a dozen their unbeaten run. "On our day we're capable of matching any team in our division."

Hughton admitted: "They were better than us early on, and they're as good a side as we've faced. The pleasing thing is that even though we were below par we've come away with something."

Having conceded only once in four previous Championship home games this season – all victories – it came as a shock when the hosts surrendered parity in the seventh minute. Jose Enrique, under pressure from Wayne Routledge, carelessly gave the ball away to Watson on the edge of the area. The midfielder cut inside to score, his shot from 18 yards finding the bottom corner courtesy of a deflection off the defender Steven Taylor.

It was a deficit Newcastle should have cancelled out in the 19th minute from the penalty spot. Stewart was unfortunate to have been ruled to handle when Taylor crashed a shot against the defender from point blank range but Guthrie's tame effort was easily kept out by Radek Cerny.

Kevin Nolan was convinced he had levelled 10 minutes before the interval when Cerny spilled his header, but the assistant referee ruled the ball had not crossed the goal-line. There was no such reprieve for the visitors when, from no more than a yard, Harewood saw to it that the spoils were shared.

Newcastle United (4-3-1-2): Harper; Simpson, Khizanishvili, S Taylor, Enrique; Guthrie (Lovenkrands, 88), Butt (Gutierrez, h-t), Smith; Nolan; Carroll, Ranger (Harewood, 61). Substitutes not used: Geremi, Krul (gk) Kadar, Donaldson.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Cerny; Gorkss, Borrowdale, Stewart, Leigertwood; Routledge, Buzsaky, Rowlands, Watson; Vine (Faurlin, 87), Simpson (Taarabt, 72). Substitutes not used: Heaton (gk), Ramage, Ephraim, Pellicori, Agyemang.

Referee: R Shoebridge (Derbyshire).