LONDON (Reuters) - Championship leaders Newcastle United suffered a Boxing Day setback as Sheffield Wednesday earned a 1-0 victory at St James’ Park on Monday.
A Glenn Loovens header eight minutes into the second half silenced the home crowd and proved enough to keep the visitors sixth in the table.
Newcastle’s defeat, which followed three consecutive victories, has opened the door for Brighton and Hove Albion to move top if they beat Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday.
It was a good day for the chasing pack with fifth-placed Leeds United winning 4-1 at Preston North End where home striker Jermaine Beckford was sent off in his first match back since serving a three-game suspension.
Goals by Kemar Roofe, Hadi Sacko and Souleymane Doukara put the visitors in control before the break and Pablo Hernandez added a late fourth to leave Leeds on 41 points, eight off the pace.
Former Leeds forward Beckford, dismissed for fighting with a team mate in his last match, came on as a second-half substitute but he lasted only three minutes after a reckless kick in the face of a United defender.
“(Kyle) Bartley and (Luke) Ayling came through the back of Jermaine and he acted stupidly,” said Preston manager Simon Grayson.
Third-placed Reading closed within six points of Newcastle thanks to a 3-1 home win over Norwich City who had Jonny Howson sent off for deliberate handball.
Huddersfield Town came from a goal down to beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 and stay fourth, a point behind Reading and one ahead of Leeds.
Michael Mancienne’s own goal after halftime sealed the points for Huddersfield and the Forest defender was later sent off to complete a miserable day.
Bottom club Rotherham United claimed their third league win of the season by beating fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic 3-2.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond