By Chief Sports Writer, Marley Anderson

Newcastle United picked up their first point in three Premier League games as they played out a dire 0-0 draw with Norwich City at Carrow Road. The game will go down as one of the most forgettable in recent memory and a dead cert for the “last on Match of the Day” slot tonight.

Neither side looked like scoring all afternoon and despite the return of Yohan Cabaye as a second half substitute, Newcastle couldn’t capitalise and put their opponents to the sword.

Norwich came closest to winning in the second half when Captain Russell Martin struck the post with a long range volley, but it would have been out of context with the game had such a sweet strike earned maximum points.

Alan Pardew was able to make some changes to his recently threadbare squad, with Jonas Gutierrez returning to the starting line-up. Mathieu Debuchy made his debut from right-back and Fabricio Coloccini started and wore the captain’s armband as usual, despite strong rumours linking him with a return to Argentina.

With Cisse in his favoured centre forward position and a supporting cast of Sylvain Marveaux, Gabriel Obertan and Gutierrez, Newcastle seemingly had the creativity to make chances against a Norwich side that had lost their last three games.

But with no away wins all season, the confidence and swagger Newcastle usually have when they play well was missing and chances were hard to fathom. Gabriel Obertan had the only shot on target of the first half when he swivelled and fired towards goal, only for Mark Bunn to acrobatically turn it away.

Norwich had a couple of half chances when they caught the Magpies on the counter attack, but the cutting edge usually provided by Grant Holt was missing. Their best chance was when they broke away and Wes Hoolahan played a one-two with Robert Snodgrass, before having it whipped off his toe by the recovering James Perch.

The second half was equally inept from both sides, despite both managers bringing on their most likely source of goals. Yohan Cabaye was introduced ten minutes in for Newcastle, while Holt got 20 minutes for the Canaries.

Norwich came out quick for the start of the second half and could have taken the lead through Bradley Johnson. The former Leeds midfielder arrived late into the box to connect with Hoolahan’s cross, but could only fire over the bar.
Cabaye came on for Obertan – who headed straight down the tunnel – and instantly went about trying to make something happen for his side. The first time he got the ball in space his creativity became apparent when he slipped a ball through for Cisse, only for the Senegal striker to labour towards the pass and get beaten by Sebastien Bassong.

The action was however moving at a swifter pace and shots were no longer a rarity. Marveaux went close for Newcastle when his long range effort dipped just over the crossbar, while Bunn collected a couple of long balls into his area.
The closest anyone came to a goal though came with 25 minutes left, when Russell Martin went close for the Canaries. The right-back collected a bouncing ball around 30 yards from goal and struck an excellent effort which clipped the outside of the post on its way wide.

Into the final stages, the most likely winners looked like Norwich, although neither side deserved to take three points from this encounter. Anthony Pilkington had a brilliant chance to clinch it for the home side but after turning smartly inside the box, Tim Krul smothered well and kept his sheet clean.

The draw leaves Newcastle in 16th place in the table thanks to some unhelpful results around them. Upcoming games against Reading and Aston Villa must garner some points for the Geordies or trouble could well await.