Blues 0 Newcastle United 0

Last updated : 29 April 2006 By Brian Cartlidge

Blues finally paid the penalty for their disappointing season which was doomed to failure as early as the opening two months of the season when they collected only one point from their first seven home games.

Their brave fight to avoid relegation took them to the penultimate game but they could not overcome a well disciplined Newcastle side, while Portsmouth clinched victory at Wigan.

Blues kept fighting to the end of the road in an attempt to finish their disastrous home campaign on a winning note.

Typically, they were denied three minutes from time by United skipper Shay Given who kept out a Mikael Forssell shot with his legs.

Following five successive wins Nerwcastl absorbed Blues' early pressure, as Titus Bramble came out on top in his duels with the out of form Emile Heskey.

The isolated danger to Newcastle was the long-range shooting ability of Jiri Jarosik. He had a couple of efforts which were just off target.

Nevertheless the ability of Jarosik to find space to set-up possible goalscoring attempts encouraged the likes of Jermaine Pennant to turn on the style.

Danger from Newcastle's attack was always lurking just around the corner with Nobby Solano enjoying considerable space on the right.

It was from this area that Shola Ameobi threatened to open the scoring for the Magpies. Only determined tackling by Blues skipper Kenny Cunningham and Mario Melchiot, who were both potentially making their last appearances at St. Andrew's, prevented the striker opening his account.

Wigan's opening goal against Portsmouth was received with the biggest cheer of the opening half hour, but Blues still struggled to break through a well-organised Newcastle team which generally appeared to have something to spare.

Mikael Forssell, still recovering from a long-term knee injury, tried to justify his surprise start with a couple of off target shots, but the best opportunity fell to the struggling Heskey.

Pennant's trickery was the key to the move which ended in Heskey turning slowly and firing in a weak shot from an opportunity that deserved a better finish.

The Magpies had a wake-up call at the interval and this was reflected by a more positive approach.

Charles N'Zogbia was only prevented from getting in a shot by a desperate tackle from Melchiot, but there were still indications that United were slowly working up steam for a final onslaught.

Blues continued their desperate search for an elusive goal, while the introduction of Owen for Michael Chopra failed to ignite Newcastle, although they never looked in danger of leaving with anything less than a point.

The club from Tyneside therefore were the team who effectively relegated both Blues and midlands neighbours West Bromwich Albion.