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Nov 24, 2009

Hughton praises matchwinner Nolan

Chris Hughton praised the versatility of Newcastle match-winner Kevin Nolan after his side returned to the top of the Championship with a 1-0 win at Preston.

• Nolan goal sees Newcastle return to summit

Nolan struck his ninth goal of the season as the Magpies claimed a fifth away win of the campaign at Deepdale to climb two points above West Brom with 17 games played this term.

"It was heading for a 0-0 and Kevin has the knack of getting in the right places at the right time,'' said Hughton. "We've been able to keep clean sheets - that was our ninth of the season - and we have a goalscorer in Kevin Nolan.

"Kevin can play centre midfield or just off the front man, where he is also an excellent link-up player.''

The former Bolton captain broke the deadlock after 74 minutes with a clinical low left-footed drive as the Magpies returned to the summit.

Hughton added: "It's a nice feeling to be back on top of the league, particularly pleasing after West Brom went top over the weekend, but there are teams in this division who want to knock you off the top.''

Preston's play-off ambitions may have been hit by injuries to defenders Youl Mawene, who was taken straight to hospital after being injured on the stroke of half-time, and Callum Davidson.

Manager Alan Irvine said: "Youl has a knee injury which we fear might be quite bad. There was a little nudge from their striker (Marlon Harewood) and a collision with Lonners (goalkeeper Andy Lonergan), but those sort of things happen.

"Callum Davidson also felt his hamstring go tight and we had to bring him off too. That happened right before they scored the goal and that certainly didn't help us.

"We got undone by a very good piece of finishing. We've seen Kevin Nolan do that on many occasions and he's got the quality to be able to do that.''

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