LONDON, April 5, 2010 (AFP) - Newcastle's promotion party went with a swing as Kevin Nolan's goal clinched a 2-1 win over Sheffield United just hours after their return to the Premier League was confirmed on Monday.
Chris Hughton's side knew they would be guaranteed to go up if third-placed Nottingham Forest failed to beat Cardiff earlier in the day and the celebrations began on Tyneside as soon as the full-time whistle blew for a 0-0 draw at the City Ground.
The Magpies responded to the party atmosphere at St James' Park by securing a victory that moved them six points clear of second placed West Bromwich Albion in the race to win the league.
Richard Cresswell briefly threatened to spoil the party for the 48,270 crowd as the United striker met James Harper's corner with a glancing header that trickled in after 22 minutes.
Wayne Routledge, Andy Carroll and Peter Lovenkrands all went close as the half-time whistle approached, but Newcastle got themselves back on terms in the final minute of the half.
Referee Andy Hall awarded a generous penalty for Chris Morgan's untidy challenge on Carroll as Danny Guthrie's corner came in, and Lovenkrands sent goalkeeper Steve Simonsen the wrong way from the spot to level with his 15th goal of the season.
The winner arrived in the 73rd minute when Lovenkrands headed down Danny Simpson's ball to Nolan and he acrobatically blasted home to cap Newcastle's day of celebration.
Newcastle, who are playing outside English football's top-flight for the first time since 1993, had been relegated in turmoil but Hughton has steadied the ship in impressive fashion.
Hughton said: "This is a wonderful achievement and we are absolutely delighted.
"That we have secured promotion with six games to spare is testament to this set of players and how good a season they have had.
"This is what we have been building towards all season and I'm delighted for everyone associated with the club."
Hughton's team have cantered to promotion after spending most of the season in the top two.
After losing 3-0 at Derby on February 9, Newcastle have embarked on an 12-match unbeaten run, a sequence including nine victories, which was enough to end their brief exile from the Premier League.
Even a reported training ground fight between striker Carroll and long-serving defender Steven Taylor, which left Taylor nursing a broken jaw and Carroll a damaged hand, wasn't enough to derail Newcastle's promotion push.
Locally-born Carroll was key to Newcastle's success as the England Under-21 forward scored 16 goals, including the winner at Doncaster just days after the bust-up with Taylor.