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.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week