By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At the Sports Direct Arena
Newcastle United 0
Swansea City 0
Newcastle United were forced to settle for a point and a goalless draw on Saturday, despite dominating proceedings against Swansea City at the Sports Direct Arena.
The Magpies dominated proceedings from start to finish but were unable to find a killer instinct in the final third, despite carving out chance after chance.
Demba Ba was denied on a handful of occasions by impressive Swans keeper Michel Vorm, while Yohan Cabaye, Fabricio Coloccini, Jonas Gutierrez and substitute Shola Ameobi also threatened. But they were unable to break down a stubborn visiting rearguard.
With just two minutes on the clock, Cabaye was inches away from giving United the perfect start.
Following Ashley Williams' foul on Ba, up stepped Cabaye to curl a 25-yard effort around the wall, but clipping the top of the crossbar on its way behind.
Joe Allen dragged a tame shot wide for the visitors, before the game flowed from end to end with neither team able to make any real impression in the final third.
However, that all changed on 20 minutes when Swansea's goal led a charmed life. Fit-again skipper Coloccini snuck in at the far post to meet Cabaye's free-kick, but with Vorm beaten his diving header struck the post when it looked to be a certain breakthrough.
That sparked Alan Pardew's side into life and minutes later Leon Best chested into the path of Ba, who saw his acrobatic volley beat Vorm but strike the post and be scrambled to safety.
Newcastle's 11-goal front man then had another sniff inside the box, only to have his shot blocked by the Swansea defence, before once again testing Vorm with half-time approaching.
After Jonas Gutierrez had headed Gabriel Obertan's cross back across goal, Ba held off the attentions of a visiting defender before striking the bouncing ball goalwards, only for Vorm to beat it clear.
The keeper was beaten, however, when Gutierrez cut in off the left flank and drilled an effort towards the top corner. But the Argentine international's rising strike ended up inches the wrong side of the upright, for what would have been a goal of the season contender.
Ba continued where he left off after the break, and volleyed Danny Simpson's deep cross over the top in the 47th minute, while Cabaye sent an effort from a tight angle into the side netting as United continued to run the show.
In the 62nd minute, Cabaye picked up his fifth booking of the season for a clip on Neil Taylor - meaning the French international will miss Wednesday's home game against West Bromwich Albion as he serves a one-game suspension.
Swansea's input in the final third was limited, but with the pace of Scott Sinclair and Wayne Routledge they were always going to pose a threat, and ex-Magpie Routledge fired a warning shot as he fizzed a ball right across the face of goal which was crying out for a finishing touch.
On 67 minutes Vorm again denied Ba, as the Senegal international looped a header back across goal that would have snuck in at the far post, and Ba was soon provided with a new strike partner as Best was replaced by Shola Ameobi.
The big forward almost had an immediate impact. Within seconds of his introduction Davide Santon had slipped the ball into his path and Ameobi drilled a low left-footed shot, which Vorm had to smother.
Another Swansea chance came and went in the 74th minute as Scott Sinclair worked himself a yard of space inside the box before shooting wide, but Newcastle were soon back on the front foot.
Obertan dragged a shot off target, before manager Pardew signalled his attacking intent for the closing stages with a double change - introducing youngsters Sammy Ameobi and Haris Vuckic for Obertan and Cheick Tiote.
Ba fired one final effort well over the top as United were unable to find a way through, and had to settle for the positive of a clean sheet - their first since 22nd October, when Wigan came to town.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; Gabriel Obertan (Sammy Ameobi 82), Yohan Cabaye, Cheick Tiote (Haris Vuckic 82), Jonas Gutierrez; Leon Best (Shola Ameobi 71), Demba Ba
Swansea City (4-5-1): Michel Vorm; Ashley Richards, Ashley Williams (c), Steven Caulker, Neil Taylor; Wayne Routledge, Leon Britton, Joe Allen, Mark Gower (Kemy Agustien 46), Scott Sinclair (Nathan Dyer 77); Danny Graham
Subs not used: Gerhard Tremmel, Garry Monk, Stephen Dobbie, Luke Moore, Leroy Lita
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
Attendance: 51,767 (1,200 Swansea)