Shearer running out of time to rescue Newcastle

Newcastle United 0 Portsmouth 0

Newcastle United attempted to mount a demonstration of the power of the Geordie nation last night but all the flags and songs in the world cannot camouflage a poor team. Newcastle once again proved that is what they are. They have six wins from 33 league games. Alan Shearer, no less, had billed this as one of the biggest nights in Newcastle's modern history but there was no corresponding upping of performance level and the occasion petered out. Shearer, the great goalscorer, has seen his new charges find the net once in six hours.

Michael Owen had the sort of chance in the 63rd minute that he would once have converted without thinking, but Owen is a reduced figure and privately Shearer's faith in him must be at its limit. If not, Shearer will share the responsibility.

Obafemi Martins also had a moment of opportunity shortly before half-time, but blasted over David James's crossbar. So it could have been different.

At least the point gained – and it was fortunate given that Portsmouth's Richard Hughes hit the post in the 82nd minute – took Newcastle above Middlesbrough. But Newcastle remain third-bottom and travel to Anfield next, where they have not won a league game for 15 years. There is hope in that Newcastle are only three points off Hull City, and Hull's goal difference is worse, but there is not confidence.

Shearer took some consolation from opportunities created. He had fielded Mark Viduka alongside Owen and Martins and with Viduka stabbing a shot at James 40 seconds into the second half, Shearer could say: "The three players I wanted up there all had one chance each and you'd expect one of them to take one. But they didn't."

In relegation terms, Shearer accepted that Newcastle "are relying on others – but I don't know whether that will be a good point or a bad point. I don't know the points total needed to stay up."

Portsmouth knew their point was a good one. It moved them seven clear of relegation and caretaker manager Paul Hart was impressed. "It was a very tough game," Hart said, "Newcastle tried to throw the kitchen sink at it. But we were disciplined." Sol Campbell and Sylvain Distin were resolute in central defence, while Nadir Belhadj and Glen Johnson were swift and purposeful in possession.

That description did not apply to any Newcastle player. It took half an hour for the crowd to be roused by Newcastle's attack. Substitute Danny Guthrie had a shot diverted by Viduka and eight minutes later Damien Duff rattled James. Six more followed and Martins jumped with Campbell for a Butt cross; the ball dropped on the Nigerian's weaker right foot and he smacked it over.

But it was something. Viduka then hit James but that was nothing compared to Owen's miss. Viduka scooped the ball to Owen, who was suddenly one-on-one with James. But in front of Franco Baldini, Fabio Capello's assistant, Owen scuffed a shot straight at James. It felt like a big moment in Owen's career and in Newcastle's season.

Portsmouth, meanwhile, kept going. Peter Crouch appeared to have been upended by Fabricio Coloccini in the Newcastle area five minutes after the interval – "a penalty definitely," Hart said, "Peter Crouch doesn't dive."

Crouch then should have scored before Hughes's header bounced back off a post. A bleak night for Newcastle, but it could have been worse.

Newcastle United (4-3-3): Harper; Beye, Coloccini, Bassong, Enrique (Guthrie 28); Smith, Butt (Gutierrez, 71), Duff; Viduka (Carroll, 64) Owen, Martins. Substitutes not used: Krul, Edgar, Barton, Lovenkrands.

Portsmouth (4-5-1): James; Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson; Nugent (Pennant, 65), Mullins, Davis, Hughes, Belhadj; Crouch. Substitutes not used: Begovic, Bassinas, Utaka, Cranie, Pamarot, Kanu.

Referee: M Riley (West Yorkshire).

Booked: Newcastle Bassong; Portsmouth Hreidarsson, Johnson.

Man of the match: Distin.

Attendance: 47,481.

News
people
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire