By Anthony Marshall, at Ewood Park
Blackburn Rovers 0
Newcastle United 0
Newcastle were forced to settle for a point away at Blackburn this afternoon as they recorded a goalless draw at Ewood Park.
Despite dominating for large periods and creating chance after chance, the Magpies were somehow unable to find a way past the Rovers rearguard.
But a share of the spoils away from home and a clean sheet are not to be sniffed at - especially after conceding four last time out.
Newcastle spent most of the opening five minutes on the back-foot, but showed their attacking threat with their first foray forward of the match.
Full-back Jose Enrique exchanged passes with Peter Lovenkrands down the left flank before drilling a low ball across the face of goal which Rovers keeper Paul Robinson could only palm into the path of Joey Barton.
Spotting Kevin Nolan making a trademark late dart into the box, Barton pulled the ball back from a tight angle, but it was hacked clear right off the foot of the captain.
Blackburn weren't shy in going forward themselves though, and should have taken the lead on nine minutes. From a deep free-kick Roque Sant Cruz thumped a header against the woodwork, and strike partner Nikola Kalinic could only poke the rebound wide from close range
But anything the hosts could do, Newcastle were clearly going to match. Enrique cut out a swift Rovers counter-attack before lofting an inch-perfect pass over the top for Lovenkrands to chase on to.
The ex-Rangers man lobbed the on-rushing Robinson but could only watch as his effort bounced off the top of the bar and away to safety.
Jonas GUtierrez was next to try his luck, but his strike from distance failed to trouble Robinson, and Mike Williamson then headed wide from the umpteenth Barton corner as Newcastle began to turn the screw. But they were unable to find the breakthrough they deserved before the interval.
There was no sign of a let-up after the restart with almost constant pressure. In the space of the opening eight minutes Barton had flashed a shot over the top and Best headed tamely at Robinson, but it was centre-back Fabricio Coloccini who had the best chance of the lot.
Barton delivered a corner to the edge of the area, where the former AC Milan defender arrived unmarked. Although his first touch was clumsy, he ended up teeing himself up for an acrobatic volley which only an outstanding reaction stop from Robinson prevented from giving the visitors a deserved lead.
Blackburn boss Steve Kean made all three of his substitutions in a bid to stem the tide, but it failed to change what was almost one-way traffic.
Leon Best was inches away from connecting with Barton's pull-back seconds before Gutierrez curled over from 20 yards.
Efforts from the hosts were few and far between, and they only really looked dangerous from set pieces, where the imposing figure of Chris Samba attempted to win the aerial ball. And with nine minutes remaining it was from a corner, swung right under the crossbar, that goalkeeper Steve Harper had to stretch out a fingertip to claw the ball away as Samba waited to pounce.
Newcastle continued to pile on the pressure with the clock ticking away, and substitute Nile Ranger added a fresh boost to the forward line, but it was a single point rather than all three to take back to the north-east.
Blackburn (4-4-2): Paul Robinson; Michel Salgado, Chris Samba (c), Ryan Nelsen, Martin Olsson; Junior Hoilett (Morten Gamst Pedersen 46), Jermaine Jones, Steven Nzonzi, David Dunn (Brett Emerton 64); Nikola Kalinic, Roque Santa Cruz (Jason Roberts 46)
Subs not used: Mark Bunn, Grant Hanley, Brett Emerton, Vince Grella, Benjani
Newcastle (4-4-2): Steve Harper; Danny Simpson (James Perch 76), Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique; Joey Barton, Cheick Tiote, Kevin Nolan (c), Jonas Gutierrez; Leon Best (Shefki Kuqi 90), Peter Lovenkrands (Nile Ranger 77)
Referee: Stuart Attwell