Summer signing Dwight Gayle proving to be invaluable for Newcastle

Dwight Gayle celebrates after he scored Newcastle United's first goal

Rafael Benitez's Magpies reached the Championship's summit after Tuesday night's 2-0 win over Barnsley.

Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle's sensational goal-scoring form continued in Tuesday night's 2-0 victory over Barnsley, as the former Crystal Palace man netted a second half brace to fire Rafael Benitez's side to the top of the Championship and take his tally to seven goals in his last four appearances.

The 25-year-old summer signing has already earned the adoration of the Geordie faithful due to his remarkable goal scoring exploits over the opening months of the season, and the adroit Englishman's uncanny ability to breach the opposition goal from all areas of the final third was on display once again at Oakwell, as he beat Tykes' stopper Adam Davies with a series of expertly taken finishes using both left and right feet.

Not only did Gayle's unerring double fire the Magpies to top spot for the first time this season, but it also pulled him clear at the top of the individual Championship scoring charts, with the former Dagenham and Redbridge forward now sitting on 11 goals from Newcastle's opening 13 fixtures, three clear of his nearest challenger Tammy Abraham of Bristol City.

Gayle arrived as one of Benitez's marquee signings during a summer of wholesale changes at St James' Park, with the revered Spanish tactician hedging his bets on the former Peterborough United striker's goalscoring prowess by parting with a sizeable £10million fee (the BBC) to tempt him to the North East from Selhurst Park.

Though Gayle boasted a highly respectable return of 15 goals in 27 Premier League starts during his three year stint with Palace, questions lingered over the slight forward's ability to operate as a lone striker due to his physical shortcomings and, after struggling to nail down a regular starting spot in Alan Pardew's side, the Eagles ultimately deemed him surplus to requirements, despite his obvious aptitude for finding the back of the net.

However, since departing South London for pastures new, Palace's loss is quickly proving to be Newcastle's gain, and Gayle continues to go from strength to strength in a black and white shirt; with the enviable creative abilities of midfield teammates Jonjo Shelvey, Matt Ritchie and Ayoze Perez providing the former non-league sensation with ample opportunities to add to his already impressive tally for the season.

Despite early calls for him to be deployed in a front two alongside the herculean figure of Aleksandar Mitrovic, Benitez has instead opted to go against Palace's reservations by putting his faith in Gayle's ability to operate as a lone forward, a decision that has quickly borne fruit, with the Englishman currently in the form of his life as he terrorises Championship back fours with his lightning pace and astute movement.

Goal scorers have long been worshipped as heroes on Tyneside and, after making the famous number nine shirt his own during a spectacular opening chapter to his Newcastle career, Gayle now has the opportunity to write himself into Geordie folklore by scoring the goals that will fire the Magpies to an instant return to the Premier League.

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