Norwich City 0, Newcastle United 0
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City ended their run of four successive Premier League defeats but had to settle for a point against struggling Newcastle from a game of few chances at Carrow Road.
The Canaries had the better of things territorially but did not do enough to trouble Newcastle keeper Tim Krul when attack after attack foundered on a poor final ball.
In the second period, Russell Martin struck the woodwork, Krul saved from Anthony Pilkington and Pilkington was just unable to apply the finishing touch to a header by substitute Grant Holt in the dying seconds, but that was as good as it got in a contest low on quality, though if anyone was going to win, it was Norwich.
City goalkeeper Mark Bunn was a virtual spectator, apart from one first-half save from Gabriel Obertan.
It may prove a valuable point for Chris Hughton's men but they would have preferred three with Liverpool and Tottenham next on the agenda.
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Hughton fielded only four survivors from the FA Cup win at Peterborough but one of them was striker Simeon Jackson, given the task of leading the attack with Holt on the bench after missing four of the previous five matches with a hamstring injury.
Bunn returned in goal with Declan Rudd on the bench after keeping a clean sheet at London Road.
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Of the seven omitted after the Canaries' victory over Posh, five were among the substitutes but there was no place for Marc Tierney or Simon Lappin in the 18.
Newcastle, beaten in nine of their previous 11 Premier League games, welcomed back skipper Fabricio Coloccini and striker Paipss Cisse after their FA Cup exit at Brighton.
Manager Alan Pardew also gave a debut at right-back to France international Mathieu Debuchy.
Before kick-off, top scorer Robert Snodgrass was presented with the player of the month award for December, his second of the season.
Bassong blundered in the opening seconds when he allowed a long ball from Anita through, thinking it was going out, and it was fortunate that Obertan's cross was not a better one as Bunn gathered at the near post.
Snodgrass won a free-kick for a foul by Coloccini but his dead-ball kick was easily headed away by Gutierrez.
Pilkington was giving Debuchy problems and managed to get a couple of crosses in from the left, but each time Snodgrass was beaten to the header.
Gutierrez broke on the left for United but overhit his cross, intended for Cisse.
Gutierrez should have done better on 16 minutes than shoot well wide, and Obertan put in the best effort of the match so far moments later with a snapshot that Bunn had to palm away.
City had their clearest opening yet when Hoolahan burst clear and played a one-two with Jackson but as he took the return pass in the six-yard box, he tried to get the ball on to his left foot and was swiftly foiled by Perch at the expense of a corner, from which Bassong headed tamely wide.
Hoolahan did better when he almost played Jackson in, but Krul was quickly off his line to collect.
Snodgrass did get in a downward header from a Hoolahan cross but it lacked the power to trouble Krul.
Bassong cleared a cross from Santon for a corner, but Anita put the ball straight into touch, rather summing up the half so far.
As Pilkington blazed the ball into the crowd at the Barclay end, the poor entertainment continued.
Obertan then fired into the River End crowd after Bassong played a low cross from Debuchy into his path.
Newcastle won another corner when Marveaux's shot was deflected wide, but Bunn made a clean catch from Anita's kick.
Mercifully, there was no added time at the end of a low-key opening period.
• Half-time: Norwich City 0, Newcastle United 0
A one-two between Hoolahan and Snodgrass almost bore fruit soon after the break, but Obertan cleared as the cross came in.
City were giving the ball away too frequently and a number of promising moves broke down as a result.
Newcastle made their first change on 57 minutes as Cabaye, out through injury for two months, returned to action in place of Obertan.
A long through-ball from Russell Martin almost brought joy for Snodgrass but as he was crowded out, the ball dropped for Pilkington, who fired wildly over the top.
Marveaux struck a long-range effort over the bar as United pushed forward but Bunn had not really been troubled since Obertan's first-half shot.
Russell Martin raised the temperature with a cracking half-volley from outside the penalty area that struck the outside of the post after Johnson latched on to Williamson's clearance – as close as City had come yet.
With a quarter of the match remaining, Holt entered the fray but it was still one striker for City as he replaced Jackson.
With 15 minutes left, Krul made an important stop from Pilkington after Snodgrass raced away from a touch by Holt and picked him out with a diagonal pass.
It was Snodgrass' last contribution as he made way for Elliott Bennett with 13 minutes to go.
Coloccini volleyed over following a corner as Newcastle looked for a winner.
Debutant Debuchy earned the first yellow card of the day for chopping down Pilkington and, with six minutes left, Newcastle replaced Anita with Bigirimana.
Hoolahan earned a corner in the final minute with a shot that was deflected wide, but Elliott Bennett's kick was a poor one.
In stoppage time, Debuchy's foul on Pilkington gave City a free-kick wide on the left, but Pilkington's poor kick failed to reach the danger area.
There was almost a goal in the final seconds when Holt headed back Bennett's cross but Pilkington was just unable to get his header on target.
• Norwich City: Bunn; Russell Martin, Turner, Bassong, Garrido; Tettey, Johnson; Snodgrass (Elliott Bennett, 77), Hoolahan, Pilkington, Jackson (Holt, 68). Subs (not used): Rudd, Ryan Bennett, Barnett, Fox, Kane.
• Newcastle United: Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Obertan (Cabaye, 57), Anita (Bigirimana, 84), Perch, Gutierrez; Marveaux; Cisse. Subs (not used): Harper, Tavernier, Amalfitano, Sammy Ameobi, Ranger.
• Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)
• Attendance: 26,752
• Booking: Newcastle: Debuchy (84)