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Woeful Magpies near relegation

NEWCASTLE slipped a step closer to relegation from the Premier League on Monday 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 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 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.

Reading kept alive its hopes of promotion to the Premier League with a 2-0 win at Norwich.


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