Newcastle United 2 Crystal Palace 0

Newcastle United moved three points clear at the top of the Championship table with a game in hand following a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

But it was a win which came at a cost as United lost Spanish bull Jose Enrique with a hamstring injury and he joins defenders Danny Simpson and Steven Taylor on the sidelines.

It was an unimpressive display from Newcastle, who were more than happy to have taken all three points and kept yet another clean sheet following an own goal from Shaun Derry and late Nile Ranger strike.

Palace were without their star forward Victor Moses after the administrators now in charge of running the ailing club told manager Neil Warnock he could not play.

Palace went into administration on Tuesday as they failed to meet payments for mounting debts and their plight was epitomised when Warnock was only able to name three substitutes.

Palace will receive an automatic 10-point deduction in the next few days which will see them slip from mid-table security to the relegation dogfight.

Newcastle went into the game without a Championship win since the 2-0 derby success over Middlesbrough on December 20, having drawn their three league fixtures since then.

Manager Chris Hughton handed a debut to one of his new signings in defender Mike Williamson, while another newcomer Wayne Routledge was named on the bench.

If Palace's plight was not already bad enough then they lost central defender Johannes Ertl after just 90 seconds with a hamstring problem.

And before substitute Matt Lawrence was introduced, Palace should have been in front after Calvin Andrew broke free only to have the ball whipped off his toes by Steve Harper.

Enrique then produced one of his customary left-wing raids and his cross only just evaded Peter Lovenkrands in front of goal.

Danny Butterfield then headed wide from six yards when it looked easier for the Palace man to score.

The deadlock was finally broken after 20 minutes when Palace skipper Derry sliced Danny Guthrie's corner into his own net.

Newcastle could easily have doubled their tally within the first 30 seconds of the second half with Lovenkrands showing some delightful skills only to let himself down with his finishing.

Inspired by Warnock's touchline antics, Palace threw everything at United and only heroics from Harper denied an equaliser when he turned a flick from former United team-mate Darren Ambrose onto the post and blocked Neil Danns' follow up.

In a last throw of the dice for an equaliser, Palace pushed everyone forward and were caught on the counter-attack when Routledge released fellow sub Ranger on the right and the youngster calmly stroked in his second goal for Newcastle and his first at St James' Park.