NEWCASTLE United claimed their first point of the year at Carrow Road today, writes Miles Starforth.
Alan Pardew’s relegation-threatened side held Norwich City to a goalless draw this afternoon.
And United’s defensive performance, at least, will have heartened Pardew, with his team having conceded 13 goals in their three previous Premier League games.
The game also saw Mathieu Debuchy make his debut – and Yohan Cabaye return from long-term injury.
Defender Fabricio Coloccini also kept his place in the team – and the captain’s armband – despite asking to leave the club for personal reasons in this month’s transfer window in the run-up to the game.
And influential Coloccini’s name was sung by the club’s travelling support as he warmed up before the game.
Pardew, without the suspended striker Shola Ameobi, chose to hand Debuchy his full debut after his move from Lille last week.
And the right-back was targeted in early stage of the game by Norwich, with Anthony Pilkington given the ball at every opportunity.
But Debuchy and his team-mate stood up to the home side’s pressure, and Gabriel Obertan forced a decent save from goalkeeper Mark Bunn with a shot from distance in the 12th minute.
However, clearcut chances proved hard to come by for both sides, though Wes Hoolahan would have surely tested Tim Krul had it not been for a last-ditch challenge from James Perch in the 21st minute.
Newcastle lacked conviction and confidence going forward, and lone striker Papiss Demba Cisse was often forced to come deep looking for the ball.
However, Pardew, conscious of the goals his side conceded over the festive period, will have been the happier manager at the break with the score goalless.
Russell Martin shaved Krul’s left-hand post with a 30-yard shot in the 68th-minute, and Hughton sent on powerful striker Grant Holt, who scored twice in Norwich’s 4-2 home win over United last season.
Cabaye, fit after recovering from groin surgery late last year, had earlier replaced Obertan for Newcastle.
Pilkington forced a close-range save from Krul in the 75th minute as Hughton’s side, willed on by Carrow Road, pressed for a winner, and Coloccini tried an audacious volley from a corner at the other end.
But neither side could conjure up a goal, and the result saw Newcastle drop to 16th place in the league table ahead of next Saturday’s home game against Reading.
NORWICH CITY: Bunn; R Martin, Turner, Bassong, Garrido; Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson (Holt, 68), Pilkington; Hoolahan, Jackson. Subs not used: Rudd, Fox, E Bennett, Barnett, R Bennett, Kane.
NEWCASTLLE UNITED: Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Anita (Bigirimana, 84), Perch; Obertan (Cabaye, 57), Marveaux, Gutierrez; Cisse. Subs not used: Harper, Amalfitano, Sammy Ameobi, Ranger, Tavernier.
Bookings: Debuchy 84
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe)