Newcastle still struggling

2009-03-14 21:42

Hull - Newcastle remain deep in relegation trouble despite salvaging a 1-1 draw at Hull on Saturday.

Only goal difference is keeping Newcastle outside the relegation zone after Magpies defender Steven Taylor cancelled out Geovanni's early opener at the KC Stadium.

Newcastle, with manager Joe Kinnear still recovering from a triple heart bypass operation, have won just one of their last 11 league matches and sit two places above the bottom three.

There was a pre-match boost for Newcastle as England striker Michael Owen returned after five games out with an ankle injury.

But it was Hull who made the more lively start. The Tigers took the lead in the ninth minute through Geovanni after an inspired run from deep inside his own half by the former Barcelona player.

He picked up possession after a Newcastle attack broke down and burst forward to set Craig Fagan free down the left.

He then continued his run into the box and Fagan picked him out with an excellent cross which dipped over Sebastien Bassong. Geovanni headed firmly past Steve Harper for his seventh goal of the campaign but his first since November.

Newcastle responded through an effort from Obafemi Martins, who whipped a shot just over from inside the box.

Fagan, whose leg was broken in the reverse fixture last September, was booked for confronting Taylor following a clash between the pair.

Geovanni won a free-kick on the edge of the area after being clipped by Geremi and his curling effort was narrowly off-target.

Newcastle levelled against the run of play seven minutes before half-time when Butt crossed and Taylor flicked a volley over Matt Duke.

Daniel Cousin had a chance to restore Hull's lead before the break but shot well wide.

Martins had a good chance on the volley soon after half-time but Hull skipper Ian Ashbee blocked.

Hull substitute Manucho, on at the break, was quickly into the action and forced Harper to save low down after being fed by Bernard Mendy.

A good run by Geremi then allowed Martins to set up Jonas Gutierrez but the Argentinian curled his effort over.

Newcastle switched off again and Mendy should have punished them after breaking clear down the right.

Manucho was unmarked in the box but the Frenchman badly mishit his cross and a relieved Harper was able to gather.

It proved to be a quiet return for Owen and after 72 ineffective minutes he was withdrawn by caretaker boss Chris Hughton.