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Page last updated at 21:22 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 22:22 UK

Newcastle 0-0 Portsmouth

By Marc Vesty

Michael Owen
Owen struggled to test Portsmouth goalkeeper David James

Newcastle could only muster a point against Portsmouth at St James' Park, which has left their Premier League future hanging in the balance.

Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins and Mark Viduka all wasted good chances on a frustrating night for the home fans.

David James denied Owen and Martins, who were both through on goal, while Magpies keeper Steve Harper made a fingertip save from Nadir Belhadj.

Pompey almost won the game late on when a Richard Hughes header hit the post.

The result lifted the Magpies up to third from bottom in the Premier League, three points behind Hull, but the frustration of the crowd at the failure to pick up three points was evident as boos rang out on the final whistle.

We created enough to win - Shearer

With only four goals in the last eight games, Newcastle manager Alan Shearer opted to start with three strikers in his side in the shape of Viduka, Owen and Martins.

Despite the rousing atmosphere, the home side struggled to find anything in the way of free-flowing football early on as a well-organised Portsmouth managed to take the wind out of their sails with a resolute, defensive opening 20 minutes that would have delighted boss Paul Hart.

It was Portsmouth who created the first real chance after 15 minutes when a free-kick on the edge of the area rebounded to Glen Johnson, who drifted towards goal, fired his shot in low but Fabrizio Coloccini got a touch ahead of Peter Crouch to avert the danger.

As whistles began to echo around the stadium, Pompey may have thought their early job as spoilers was done but a half-volley from Alan Smith, which deflected off the arm of Hermann Hreidarsson, had the home fans on their feet screaming for a penalty, although referee Mike Riley waved away the appeals.

606: DEBATE
Only One Alan Shearer

An air of desperation seemed to hang over Tyneside as Newcastle spurned a series of chances.

Damien Duff tested James with an 18-yard, right-footed drive, Viduka headed over from close range and Martins smashed a volley over the bar from eight yards out when he should have done better.

Desperation levels were cranked up in the second half as, with Pompey restricted to counter-attacking forays, the home side continued to miss chances, largely because of wasteful Magpies finishing.

Owen's deft back-heel set Viduka free 45 seconds into the second half but the Australian's shot was straight into the body of James.

Martins was sent clear one-on-one with James but the England goalkeeper stood firm before doing the same when Owen was in a similar position, although the former Real Madrid striker will know he should have done better.

Hart 'extremely pleased' with Pompey

Moments earlier James suffered one of the calamitous moments that have peppered his career when he dropped a cross from Duff into the path of Viduka but the striker could not capitalise.

Newcastle were living dangerously and Riley again waved away penalty claims, this time more debatably, when Coloccini caught Crouch late with a sliding challenge that sent the forward crashing to the turf.

The Magpies released men forward in search of a winner but they were left wide open at the back and looked like they might finish with nothing as Belhadj burst through and forced a reaction save from Steve Harper.

As the Newcastle players tired, the chance of recording a first home win of 2009 evaporated.

Portsmouth continued to push on and were denied by the post after a looped header from Hughes.


Newcastle: Harper, Beye, Coloccini, Bassong, Jose Enrique (Guthrie 28), Smith, Butt (Gutierrez 71), Duff, Viduka (Carroll 64), Martins, Owen.
Subs Not Used: Krul, Barton, Lovenkrands, Edgar.

Booked: Bassong, Carroll.

Portsmouth: James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson, Davis, Belhadj, Hughes, Mullins, Nugent (Pennant 65), Crouch.
Subs Not Used: Begovic, Pamarot, Utaka, Cranie, Kanu, Basinas.

Booked: Hreidarsson, Johnson.

Att: 47,481

Ref: Mike Riley (Yorkshire).



BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Newcastle's Alan Smith (6.37 on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
We lack confidence, says Shearer
27 Apr 09 |  Premier League
Premier League as it happened
27 Apr 09 |  Premier League


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