It was billed as the battle of Holland's two great goalkeeping hopes, but there was only one flying Dutchman on show. While Tim Krul will have few easier afternoons, it was left to his Swansea counterpart Michel Vorm to underline his status among the most prescient signings of the season with an eighth clean sheet to secure a point.
"Their keeper looked strong and everything we tried to do, they seemed to have an answer for," Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager, conceded after seeing his side record a fifth game without a victory.
Pardew added: "We just needed that goal to get Swansea to come out a bit. I think we would havewon the game had that happened. Overall, I'm not too disappointed. We looked more like ourselves and remember Swansea are a mid-table team, and to be fair we've bossed them."
Until a late rally by the visitors, where Scott Sinclair almost claimed a barely merited winner, the crowd witnessed an afternoon of almost incessant Newcastle pressure, a commanding display impressive in every department but for the most important one, namely finding the back of the net.
They were not without their share of misfortune, striking both Swansea posts in the space of four minutes midway through the first half. The returning Fabricio Coloccini, with a diving far-post header, and Demba Ba, courtesy of an acrobatic volley, proved to be the unfortunate Newcastle players.
Vorm played his part, denying Ba with a fine first-half block before producing an equally impressive save to keep out a shot from the substitute Shola Ameobi. Despite looking overworked in comparison to Krul, who could conceivably have been charged admission such was his under-employment as Newcastle earned a first shut-out for two months, the visiting Dutch keeper has had far busier encounters this season.
"Our keeper only had a couple of good saves to make," Brendan Rodgers, the Swansea manager, insisted. He added: "Our clean-sheet record is very much a team effort, and to restrict Newcastle to just four shots on target is a real credit to us and shows the level of our workrate."
Swansea's best chances both arrived late on. After the former Newcastle midfielder Wayne Routledge had fired across the face of goal, the clearest opportunity fell to Sinclair inside the final 20 minutes. The winger did well to create space inside the area but saw his angled drive drift inches wide, denying his side a win which would have given them a place in the top half of the table.
"We're delighted with a point," Rodgers said. "It was always going to be difficult because of the terrific start Newcastle have had. The players showed wonderful resilience and to get our eighth clean sheet in 16 games explodes the myth that we can't defend and that we're just a passing team. A lot of these same players came here a couple of years ago and lost heavily, but this time, psychologically we were ready."
A 51,000 crowd, led by the tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones in an emotional rendition of the Welsh hymn "Bread of Heaven", had paid their respects before the game to Gary Speed, who was a player at Newcastle for six years. The late midfielder's skills no doubt would have helped his former side unlock his compatriots' sterling defensive work. Hughes Jones was joined in the centre circle by Speed's parents and two sons, in addition to his great friend Alan Shearer, as supporters in the East Stand picked out the former Wales manager's No 11 shirt by holding up black-and-white cards, before joining in a minute's applause.
In sentiments echoed by his opposite number, Pardew added: "It was a chance for the Geordie folk to show their respect and love for Gary, and they did that in a truly magical way. It really was hairs on the back of your neck stuff."
Newcastle (4-4-2): Krul; Simpson, Coloccini, Perch, Santon; Obertan (Sammy Ameobi, 82), Tioté (Vuckic, 82), Cabaye, Gutierrez; Best (Shola Ameobi, 71), Ba.
Swansea (4-3-3): Vorm; Richards, Williams, Caulker, Taylor; Britton, Gower (Agustien, 45), Allen; Sinclair (Dyer, 77), Graham, Routledge.
Referee Lee Mason.
Man of the match Vorm (Swansea).
Match rating 5/10.
- More about:
- P Funk