Matt Ritchie had a simple message after Newcastle United moved a point clear of Brightonat the top of the Championship on Saturday – the league table doesn’t lie.
Ritchie had a strike disallowed for offside in Saturday’s goalless draw at Birmingham City.
But the Scotland winger and manager Rafa Benitez were adamant that the goal, which would have given the Tynesiders a record 14th away win of the season, should not have been disallowed.
Ritchie – who had helped a shot from Ayoze Perez over the line before the break only to see it ruled out – still feels the point could prove to be an important one come the end of the campaign.
“We’re in a good position,” said Ritchie. “We’re at the top of the league, and as long as we continue to perform as we have throughout the season, then the league table doesn’t lie.
“Obviously, the result wasn’t three points, but the way we played was positive.
“We moved the ball well, even though the pitch wasn’t great. We got into good areas and created a few chances.
“We’ve got a fortnight to regroup now. We just need to work hard, and hopefully we’ll have a successful run in, and one that we’ll be fresh for.”
On his disallowed goal, Ritchie added: “I definitely think the goal should have stood – it looks an incorrect decision to me.
“I might have been level with Ayoze, but if anything I think I was behind him because I gambled on it coming back out.
“It was disappointing, but in the end, you look at it and it could be a good point.
“We all know this league is unforgiving, and we’ve come away from a tough place with a draw. Birmingham are probably starting to play how they’ve wanted to play for a while, so it could be a good point at the end of the season.”
Brighton were beaten 2-0 by Leeds on Saturday while third-placed Huddersfield lost 4-0 at Bristol City on Friday, leaving the Magpies seven points clear of third.
“You can’t take anything for granted in this league,” said Ritchie.
“Although you also don’t want to accept a result like this, you don’t want to be going into games thinking that in the Championship anything can happen, because if you do that you’re setting yourself up for a fall.”
Newcastle’s next game is at home to lowly Wigan on April 1.
Birmingham: Kuszczak, Bielik, Shotton, Robinson, Nsue, Davis, Tesche, Kieftenbeld, Grounds, Gardner (Gleeson 90), Jutkiewicz (Donaldson 87). Subs not used: Legzdins, Adams, Maghoma, Frei, Dacres-Cogley. Booked: Robinson.
Newcastle: Darlow, Anita, Lascelles, Hanley, Dummett, Ritchie, Diame, Colback, Gouffran (Atsu 82), Perez (Shelvey 79), Murphy (Gayle 63). Subs not used: Mbemba, Elliot, Gamez, Mitrovic.
Att: 19,796. Ref: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).