Shearer admits sands of time are running out for Magpies

NEWCASTLE manager Alan Shearer had no illusions about the seriousness of his team’s predicament after they drew 0-0 with Portsmouth at St James’ Park last night.

The Magpies climbed one place above Middlesbrough to third from bottom on goal difference but are still three points from safety with four games to go.

Newcastle take on Liverpool at Anfield in their next match before successive home games against Middlesbrough and Fulham with a trip to Aston Villa on the final day.

However, Shearer knows his side must grind out a victory somewhere, and made no excuses for another failure.

“We need to get a win,’’ he admitted. “Time is running out, we know it. We might get something at Anfield and then we have two home games we need to take six points from.

“I think it will go to the final game of the season. But we need a win to kick-start a bit of momentum.”

The former England striker bemoaned his side’s inability to convert their chances, especially considering they had a three-pronged attack of Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins and Mark Viduka.

“We are not relegated – we are far from it,” he added. “We are very disappointed not to have won the game – we created enough chances to have won the game. All three had very good chances: we didn’t put them away and we paid the price.’’

Shearer acknowledged their next game at Anfield is one of the most difficult they could face, saying: “It’s a difficult game – they are still going for the title. It doesn’t get any tougher but we’ll go and give it our best.”

Owen passed up Newcastle’s best chance last night.

The 29-year-old striker was denied by veteran goalkeeper David James’ legs after he was played in by Mark Viduka 63 minutes.

And it might have been even worse for Shearer’s men with Peter Crouch firing straight at Steve Harper with 11 minutes remaining and Richard Hughes heading against the foot of the post three minutes later.

Newcastle’s best two chances of the first half came inside the final seven minutes, James making a fine save to push Duff’s goal-bound effort around the post, while Martins saw a close-range shot deflected over the bar with seconds remaining.

Viduka was presented with a glorious chance to open the scoring within seconds of the restart after Owen cleverly back-heeled Martins’ pass into his path.

As the game became stretched, play switched rapidly from end to end.

Pompey keeper James almost handed Newcastle a glorious chance on a plate when he dropped Duff’s cross with Viduka and Owen close at hand, although he redeemed himself with 63 minutes gone.

Viduka managed to squeeze the ball through the Portsmouth defence to leave Owen with just the keeper to beat, but James blocked with his legs to leave Shearer with his head in his hands and Newcastle’s best chance of a winner was gone.

NEWCASTLE: Harper, Beye, Coloccini, Bassong, Jose Enrique (Guthrie 28), Smith, Butt (Gutierrez 71), Duff, Viduka (Carroll 64), Martins, Owen.

PORTSMOUTH: James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson, Davis, Belhadj, Hughes, Mullins, Nugent (Pennant 65), Crouch.

Referee: Mike Riley.


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