Little Britton makes for a jolly Rodgers

Newcastle United 0 Swansea 0

St James' Park

Attempting to prosper in the Premier League is no laughing matter, but Brendan Rodgers can always raise a smile when asked to discuss little Britton. "He's about two stones soaking wet," the Swansea manager said of his admirable midfielder Leon Britton, whose physique, or more accurately lack of it, is refreshing antidote to the worryingly ubiquitous identikit top-flight footballer big on stature but short on talent.

Britton, who stands 5ft 6in, exerted an increasing influence on an encounter Newcastle could conceivably have won at a canter, but didn't. The hosts struck the woodwork twice in the space of four first-half minutes through Fabricio Coloccini and Demba Ba, and found Michel Vorm a formidable barrier in the Swansea goal, as an eighth clean sheet for the Welsh side will attest. That Newcastle had six times as many shots on goal and nine times the number of corners as their opponents tells its own story.

A failure to exploit their supremacy left the hosts open to a late rally by the visitors that almost saw Scott Sinclair claim all three points. Regardless of their wait for a first away victory of the season, on a day that another fine exponent of the midfield art in Gary Speed was remembered with a fitting tribute, Britton's work was exemplary.

Alan Pardew describes the returning Cheik Tiote, the midfielder who came off towards the end "with cramp everywhere" as his warrior. By contrast, Britton, whose care and attention when in possession is evident, is more of a worrier. Each painstaking pass is lovingly sent by the footballing flyweight, Swansea's erstwhile quarter-back directing operations from the centre of the park; a small man helping the Welsh club make big strides in among the top-flight giants.

"The traditional British outlook on players is that they have to be over six foot, quick and strong," Rodgers, himself among the more diminutive of his Premier League peers, reflected. "Along with a number of my other players, Leon showed a wonderful demonstration of technique, talent and an ability to pass the ball. He's been terrific. At many other clubs, he wouldn't get a game, but because we play a certain way, he offers a great structure for our team, in a controlling position. He was outstanding today and the catalyst behind everything, the door which opens a lot of things up for us."

Depending on your viewpoint, for Newcastle, it was either back up to sixth, or a fifth game without a win. Either way, this was a first clean sheet for two months. Tiote and Coloccini were welcome returnees from injury, but the nagging suspicion remains that the bubble has burst for Pardew's side, and that the only way is down to the comfort of mid-table.

The absence at home to West Brom on Wednesday of Yohan Cabaye, in the wake of a rather harsh fifth yellow card of the season, will only make the task halting the malaise that bit harder.

"I've got no problem if that's what people think," Pardew insisted. "We all want the possibility of the top-six spot, and we'll just go to the next game and see what happens."

Substitutes: Newcastle Shola Ameobi 6 (Best, 71), Sammy Ameobi (Obertan, 82), Vuckic (Tioté, 82). Swansea Agustien 6 (Gower, h-t), Dyer (Sinclair, 77).

Booked: Newcastle Cabaye. Swansea Richards.

Man of the match Britton. Match rating 5/10.

Possession: Newcastle 56% Swansea 44%.

Attempts on target: Newcastle 6 Swansea 0.

Referee L Mason (Lancashire). Attendance 51,767.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz