Portsmouth (a) Premiership
43mins Kieron Dyer latched onto a poor back header from Linvoy Primus to nod past Jamie Ashdown in front of the jubilant away contingent. 1-0
45mins With the clock showing 3.50pm, for once Lomana LuaLua stopped his circus tricks and ran at the Newcastle defence and Stone was able to poke in LuaLua's cross-cum-shot at the far post. 1-1
Half time: Portsmouth 1 Newcastle 1
Full time: Portsmouth 1 Newcastle 1
"If we had gone in at half-time one-up I believe we would have won. But a foul on Jean-Alain Boumsong in the build-up to Portsmouth's goal wasn't seen and the TV proved the goal was offside.
"We had other chances to score but I don't need to moan about Lady Luck. We've had plenty of that over the last nine matches but there is still time to make fifth or sixth spot. There are plenty of points to play for.
"Portsmouth showed their determination to stay in this league. I think the referee is a good one but that today was an exceptionally poor day for him.
"Don't ask me any more about him, though. I'm fed up with paying fines."
It was a day of contrasts on the South coast. Newcastle went into this one on the back of eight straight victories in three competitions while Pompey had suffered four straight defeats in the league, although the last two had been at Highbury and Old Trafford.
Confidence in the away camp was high while the jitters had started to creep in at Fratton Park as Portsmouth seemed to be joining the relegation dogfight with the bottom four clubs.
The journey down had seen a mixture of fog and sunshine but by the time the Spinnaker Tower was in view there were blue skies over the white cliffs of Portsmouth and it wasn't just Spring that had arrived but Summer seemed to be in full swing in the tropical South.
A dozen years in the top flight may well have turned us into spoilt Premiership snobs but whichever way you look at Fratton Park, it's a dump. To the South are tight terraced streets and the ground is next to a rail line and some industrial units.
Inside the ground you get the impression that Portsmouth are waiting for a brand new out of town stadium to be completed while they do the bare minimum of ground improvements to Fratton Park.
The away end is a step back in time. Old turnstile entrances and steep stairs to concrete terracing that appears to have had some plastic seats bolted on to it - seats that have numbers scrawled on with a marker pen.
One toilet next to the turnstile was far from adequate and those daring to pay through the nose for some sort of burger were served up what looked a discarded flip-flop picked up from the South Parade pier. You don't get much for your thirty English pounds in these parts....
But what grounds like these still retain is that vital ingredient of atmosphere, so we're told. Apparently the Pompey Chimes still ring out loud and scare the opposition witless, with many big scalps (Manchester United and Spurs) being taken this season. Well, not today.
The Pompey Chimes were conspicuous by their absence and if it wasn't for the infernal bell-ringer and drummer initiating some "blue" incantation then there wouldn't have been much atmosphere at all.
As is usual with games played 300+ miles from the North East, the away contingent was a mixture of exiles and the less frequent attenders (an abundance of dusted down mid-90s replica kits is a dead giveaway) along with the perennial hardcore. It's a blend that doesn't usually generate the greatest of volumes.
It was heartening to see Boumsong back at the heart of our defence - not only does he look a class act but he seems to bring out the best from his colleagues. With Bramble under the surgeon's knife, O'Brien was the inevitable partner and Hughes and Carr the equally predictable full-back pairing.
Souness had sussed out that there would be no prisoners taken by the home side and so our 'hard men' Butt and Bowyer joined old boy Faye and Robert in midfield. Dyer was given another run up front alongside Shearer as we looked to the combination of pace and power that had destroyed Olympiakos.
Unfortunately Portsmouth were a completely different kettle of fish to the beaten Greeks and it was to be a frustrating afternoon for our front two. In fact, all over the pitch we struggled to find any fluency against a side that were literally scrapping for everything.
Primus, Cisse and De Zeeuw all clattered through the back of our lot early on and set the tone for the afternoon. Bowyer responded in kind and the war of attrition had begun.
It was exactly what we didn't need after eight games in less than a month. Confidence and adrenalin can only get you so far and dead legs were being added to weary limbs at an alarming rate as we looked to the man in yellow for some protection.
Referee Matt Messias had an awful game. His decisions favoured us in the first half but he evened things out after the break. The game probably deserved nine yellow cards but often the main culprits escaped while niggles and trips were punished. For Cisse not to receive a card of any colour tells its own story.
And it was one of those petty spats that directly led to our goal. Bowyer charged clear but was brought down by Taylor who wasn't booked. For some strange reason Yakubu decided to voice some sort of protest by standing in front of the ball. Carr kicked it against the Pompey player and Yakubu was shown the yellow card.
The same thing happened again as tempers flared and at this point Messias completely lost control. Once the furore had died down two more yellow cards were shown - another to Yakubu which was presumably confirmation of the first and then another to Carr, for some slight shove witnessed by the linesman.
The kick was moved ten yards further forward and Carr quickly found Bowyer who chipped a cross into the six yard box. De Zeeuw's header was weak and Primus inexplicably headed towards his own goal where Dyer was able to poach a Shearer-like goal, nodding past Ashdown.
There was an air of panic in the home ranks and they were well and truly rattled. Seeing out the final few minutes of the half was vital but all we could do was offer our glass chin to a grateful punchdrunk Pompey and it was the Newcastle connections that brought about the equaliser.
It was a mystery where all the injury time had come from (or did we kick-off late?) but LuaLua broke down our left in the final few seconds of added time. This hadn't been much of a problem up to then - his pirouettes and dancing feet had been largely ineffective but this time after a 360 degree turn he sent the ball across the danger zone.
Hughes appealed (rightly as the TV pictures showed later) for offside but there was no flag and Steve Stone slid the ball home from a few yards out. The ex-Mag and exiled Geordie combination struck again.
The half-time entertainment was as baffling as the proceeding 45 (sorry, 50) minutes. I missed the introduction but it seemed that two blind-folded fans were being publicly ridiculed by their mates as they lumbered around the far penalty area. The Pompey supporter seemed to 'win' as the Newcastle pairing bickered their way back to our end. Bizarre.
The main talking point for the second period was the 'fire' that had caused belching smoke to engulf the ground. It was, of course, the sea that was 'ablaze' and mist rather smoke that had descended.
What we could see wasn't worth watching as both sides seemed happy enough to settle for a point. The niggles continued and Alan Shearer was able to skilfully dismember one of their lot while putting in a seemingly fair challenge.
The six substitutions failed to change anything and presumably Kluivert's appearance for the last five minutes was a statement from the management to the striker, rather than an attempt by Souness to win all three points.
As soon as the whistle blew we legged it from our aisle seats and hurried away into the mist. Not that we were in any particular hurry to get away but it was a bit parky in just a T-shirt with the sun now totally obscured. Taking some local advice we skirted around the congested city centre down by the piers and out onto the badly sign-posted motorways. At one point the choice was Southampton or London, we weren't hoping to see signs to Newcastle but just the word North would have been nice.
So the unbeaten run continues, although the nine wins in a row was one too many. It would be difficult to criticise our lot for an undistinguished display, so I won't. It may still prove to be a useful point and if we escaped unscathed and uninjured then we got off lightly. Will we be here again next year? Probably. Would we miss it if we weren't? Probably not.