Robbo earns Rovers a point

Robinson’s lightning reflexes helped him push a blistering Fabricio

Coloccini drive over the bar in the 54th minute as the visitors

dominated after the break. Roque Santa Cruz had headed a ninth

minute effort against the post for Rovers, who toiled for much of

the afternoon while Peter Lovenkrands lofted a 14th minute effort

onto the top of the bar. Magpies boss Alan Pardew had been able to

name an unchanged side following the stunning comeback against

Arsenal last week, with stop-gap striker and former Rovers star

Shefki Kuqi on the bench. With Rovers having come off worse in a

seven-goal thriller at Wigan, it was not surprising both teams

started where they left off and produced a richly entertaining

first quarter-hour. Jermaine Jones’ attempt at a Wayne Rooney-style

overhead kick in the third minute failed to have quite the same

impact as the American missed the ball and clattered Mike

Williamson. Newcastle came close two minutes later when Lovenkrands

played in Jose Enrique down the left and his ball across the face

of goal was palmed clear by Paul Robinson. In what was warming into

a feisty encounter, Cheik Tiote was warned for a rash challenge on

Nikola Kalinic, and Kevin Nolan and David Dunn almost came to blows

on the half-way line. Rovers should have grabbed the lead in the

ninth minute when captain Christopher Samba’s flick in the box set

up Santa Cruz for a header which struck Steve Harper’s right-hand

post. Lovenkrands had an even better chance for the visitors on 14

minutes when he was put clear by Enrique but his left-foot lob over

Robinson dropped onto the top of the bar. As the fast pace

continued Rovers had another chance when Dunn blazed over the bar

after good work from Junior Hoilett down the Rovers left. Michel

Salgado gifted Newcastle an opening in the 25th minute with a

wayward cross-field pass which let in Lovenkrands, but the Dane ran

into Ryan Nelsen who cleared. Nelsen headed away another cross from

the dangerous Enrique as the game’s early excitement faded with a

series of minor infringements ruining any momentum the game could

gather. The visitors dominated from the start of the second period

against a Blackburn side forced to make two changes due to injuries

to Santa Cruz and Junior Hoilett. Joey Barton had the first chance

of the second half for Newcastle after Jonas Gutierrez’s charge

down the left, but Barton’s swept left-foot effort sailed well over

the bar. Newcastle came closer on 54 when Coloccini chested down a

Barton corner from the left and rammed a rising left-foot shot

which Robinson did superbly to tip over the bar. Barton almost

found Best in the box on the end of a neat one-two and as Rovers

struggled to clear it was Gutierrez’s turn to fire the loose ball

over the bar. Rovers were being pinned back in their own half with

captain Samba outstanding. But without the presence of Santa Cruz

they were struggling to create anything in the visitors’ half.

After completely dominating for the first half hour of the second

half, Newcastle lived on their nerves in the 81st minute when a

deep Pedersen corner caused chaos in the box. If the near-miss was

designed to belatedly stir the home side into life it failed to

work as both Barton and Gutierrez were only let down at the other

end by the quality of their final balls. Pardew threw Kuqi into the

fray for the three minutes of added time no doubt in the hope of a

fairytale start in the black and white stripes but referee Stuart

Atwell had other ideas.