Blackburn 1 Newcastle 1
By Alex Livie
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Craig Bellamy's effort at the start of the second half looked sure to give Newcastle the three points, but new boy Jon Stead popped up five minutes from time to secure Rovers a share of the spoils.
Bellamy's pace has been sorely missed of late by Newcastle and he looked sharp on his first start since overcoming knee surgery and stung Brad Friedel's palms with a low shot early on.
Stead scored on his Rovers debut and he almost doubled his tally after Andy O'Brien had gifted possession to the home side, but Shay Given was equal to his low strike.
Andy Cole, restored to the team, and Stead were causing problems for the Newcastle defence and only a timely intervention from Alan Shearer stopped Rovers from taking the lead.
Rovers started to assert and Stead looked sure to score on 25 minutes, but he slipped just as a deep cross winged its way towards him at the far post.
Newcastle were not without chances, with the excellent Friedel denying Shearer and Gary Speed on four occasions.
Speed's first effort from close range looked sure to put Newcastle ahead, but Friedel denied him with his legs and he did so again moments later when tipping the Welshman's shot round the post.
The American acrobatically tipped a Shearer blockbuster round the post and later pushed a header from the former England captain to safety.
Newcastle were without the injured Jonathan Woodgate and his organisational skills were sadly lacking as Rovers broke clear down the right on numerous occasions, with Brett Emerton particularly wasteful when chipping a shot wide when well placed and Markus Babbel somehow headed wide from six yards.
A flashpoint occurred moments before the break when Bellamy went down in a heap following a challenge from Lucas Neill.
The Newcastle players and staff were incensed by the challenge and a number of people had to be kept apart as the teams went down the tunnel at half time.
Bellamy came out for the second half and showed no ill-effects as he rifled Newcastle in front on 52 minutes. A Laurent Robert long throw caused panic in the Rovers defence and Bellamy pounced to slam home after Shearer's power in the challenge prevented Friedel from making an effective clearance.
The goal gave Bellamy real confidence and he went close to doubling his tally on a couple of occasions, shooting wide and later almost netting from out on the wing after beating Friedel to a long ball.
Rovers failed to test Newcastle to the extent they had in the first half but The Magpies' defensive frailties on the left-hand side proved their undoing as a long cross from the flank by Paul Gallagher was slammed home at the far post by Stead.
Shearer is going through a rare barren spell and when Friedel clutched onto his injury time shot, the points were shared.