Newcastle’s automatic promotion hopes suffered a major setback after they crashed to a 3-1 defeat against Ipswich at Portman Road.
The north east club, who were Championship leaders for a considerable period, have hit a barren spell at the worst possible time and goals from Freddie Sears, David McGoldrick and Emry Huws made it two defeats in three matches for Newcastle.
The biggest concern for Rafael Benitez is that his side have won just twice in their last eight games and the gap is narrowing all the time with Huddersfield and Reading keeping alive their hopes of finishing in the top two.
Newcastle’s hopes of winning the title have virtually disappeared with Brighton moving seven points clear with just three games to play and effectively sealed promotion into the Premier League.
Ipswich opened the scoring just before half-time when former West Ham forward Sears fired his close-range shot past keeper Karl Darlow.
Newcastle drew level on 62 minutes when Daryl Murphy tapped home a low cross from Christian Atsu.
But any hopes of securing a crucial three points were quickly ended when Ipswich regained the lead on 69 minutes when a fine flowing move ended with Sears crossing low and beyond Darlow for McGoldrick to tap into the unguarded net at the far post.
The home side completed the victory in injury time when substitute Brett Pitman found space down the right and his cross was expertly volleyed home by Huws to serve up Ipswich’s best performance in front of their biggest crowd on Sir Bobby Robson Day.