Gayle's goal-a-game record puts him in good position for breaking a second tier record.
When Dwight Gayle wheeled away in celebration early in the second half at Elland Road, the die was well and truly cast.
Newcastle United are now five points clear at the top of the Championship, nine ahead of Reading in third, with a return to the Premier League already shifting into focus. After all, when your first choice centre-forward is averaging a goal-a-game, it’s difficult to stray too far away from automatic promotion contention.
It’s 13 in 13 now for Gayle, putting him well on track to obliterate the 30 goal barrier in English football’s second tier, a feat that has only been achieved once since the Championship came into official existence back in 2004.
And, with Jonjo Shelvey, Matt Ritchie and Yoan Gouffran supplying the ammunition, there’s no reason why the impish goal-machine can’t make history by May. But who is standing in his way of a rather impressive personal landmark?
Glenn Murray, Crystal Palace 2012/13 – 30 goals
Reliable as ever at the age of 33, Murray has added considerable firepower to Brighton’s creativity since his summer arrival from Bournemouth. With 10 goals in 15 appearances, the 6ft 2ins targetman possesses the clichéd ‘good touch for a big man’ and, more importantly, has history when it comes to firing his team to promotion.
In 2012/13, Murray cruised to the top of the Championship goal charts, helping The Eagles soar back to the top flight after seven seasons away.
One of the most naturally gifted attackers in the division, McCormack’s deft touch and eye for the spectacular has earned him big money moves to both Fulham and Aston Villa in recent seasons. He is yet to sparkle at Villa Park, however, with the glorious chips and thumping volleys that characterised his final season at Elland Road currently a distant memory.
Heart ruled head when Rickie Lambert swapped the South Coast for boyhood club Liverpool in 2014. The veteran forward netted just twice in 25 Premier League appearances for The Reds while Southampton, as is their trademark, replaced their departed talisman with impressive all-rounder Graziano Pelle.
However, Lambert remains a God among The Saints, spearheading their rapid rise from League One to the Premier League via a 27 goal haul in Southampton’s promotion campaign.
Ironically, the Republic of Ireland international is now firmly entrenched behind Gayle in the pecking order at St James’ following his summer move from Ipswich, with his goal laden 2014/15 season a stand-out anomalie in a career of respectability rather than ruthlessness. Murphy’s goal tally dropped alarmingly to just ten last season, while his Newcastle account remains empty.
Sylvain Ebanks-Blake, Wolves 2008/09, 25 goals
For every Rickie Lambert, there’s a Cameron Jerome. While some continue to plunder on regardless of the division, others find the transition from, say, The Madejski to The Etihad rather more difficult. Despite thumping home on 25 occasions in 2008/09, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake managed just two in 23 in Wolves’ first season back in the top flight.
As it stands, the former Manchester United youngster has tallied just eleven league goals in the last three seasons.