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Newcastle draw continues relegation form

  • Story Highlights
  • Newcastle remain in the drop zone, three points from safety with four games remaining of the season
  • Portsmouth move seven points clear of the bottom three
  • Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins and Mark Viduka led the line in an attacking 4-3-3 formation for Newcastle
  • Newcastle manager Alan Shearer points to lack of confidence amongst his players
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(CNN) -- Newcastle United's relegation form showed no signs of abating in the English Premier League after a 0-0 draw at home to Portsmouth left the side in the drop zone, three points from safety with four games remaining.

Mark Viduka

Mark Viduka agonises over a missed chance for Newcastle in their game against Portsmouth

In a bid to secure the Magpies' first home win of 2009 manager Alan Shearer experimented with an attacking 4-3-3 formation, with Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins and Mark Viduka leading the forward line.

However, though chances fell to each striker, a stubborn performance from England goalkeeper David James and wasteful shooting in front of goal insured all three forwards had as frustrating a-time as many of the fans watching.

Portsmouth, keen to avoid being dragged into an end-of-season, relegation dog fight themselves showed their intentions when Glen Johnson fired in a rebounded free-kick to test Newcastle's defence with 15 minutes gone.

A penalty appeal for the home side was turned down when Alan Smith's shot hit the arm of Hermann Hreidarsson, before Martins blazed over from just eight yards out in the best of a flurry of chances for the men in black and white.

The Nigeria hit-man fluffed his lines again when through on goal with only James to beat, as did Owen when placed in a similar position later in the game.

Having not won away from home since November, Portsmouth showed signs of ambition when Nadir Belhadj tested Newcastle stopper Steve Harper before Peter Crouch missed with the goal at his mercy and Richard Hughes hit the upright.

The well-earned point away from home moved Paul Hart's men to 14th position in the league and seven points clear of the bottom three.

Shearer, however, was left to bemoan the lack of belief amongst his players in an interview with Newcastle's club Web site.

"Confidence in football is huge and the team aren't winning matches. You get into a habit and at the minute it's proving difficult to score goals.

"But we created them and we've got to continue to do that because if we do do that, we know that one will go in. The big thing is, can we continue to create those chances?" , Shearer added.

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