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Newcastle in danger after 0-0 draw vs. Portsmouth

NEWCASTLE slipped a step closer to relegation from the Premier League yesterday with a 0-0 draw against visiting Portsmouth.

Newcastle fielded Michael Owen, Mark Viduka and Obafemi Martins in a three-man attack but all three missed chances and the Magpies remained in the three-team relegation zone, winless in four games under new manager Alan Shearer.

Portsmouth, which is now almost safe from relegation, came closest to scoring when it hit the post through Richard Hughes in the 82nd.

The result left Newcastle with only a narrow win over last-place West Bromwich Albion in its last 15 Premier League matches. Newcastle has 31 points with four matches remaining, three points from the safety of 17th place.

"We need to get a win," Shearer said. "Time is running out, we know it. I think it will go to the final game of the season.

"But we need a win to kickstart a bit of momentum."

Newcastle is next at title challenger Liverpool at the weekend before hosting Middlesbrough and Fulham. It is at Aston Villa on the last day of the season.

Both goalkeepers made first-half saves, with Portsmouth's David James stopping winger Damien Duff and Steve Harper tipping a curling shot by Sean Davis over the bar.

Owen and Martins both missed chances, but it was Viduka who was replaced by Andy Carroll in the 64th soon after the Australia striker shot straight at James.

Portsmouth was unlucky not to get a penalty following a 50th-minute sliding tackle by Fabrizio Coloccini on Peter Crouch.

Martins was then blocked by James, but the home side's efforts to score left gaps in defense and Hughes headed his late effort onto the bar.

Reading kept alive its hopes of automatic promotion to the Premier League from the second-tier League Championship with a 2-0 win at relegation-threatened Norwich.

Ireland forward Shane Long scored two second-half goals to move fourth-place Reading to 77 points ahead of this season's final round of matches. Reading hosts Birmingham on Sunday and can edge the second-place Blues to the final automatic promotion spot with victory.


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