Newcastle managed to grind out a goalless draw against Everton despite Kevin Nolan's first half dismissal at St. James' Park. Nolan was sent off just before the interval for a horrendous two-footed foul on Victor Anichebe, but the hosts were able to hold on for a point without many alarms as Everton struggled to turn their advantage into goal scoring opportunities. Newcastle's point lifted them five points clear of the relegation zone, while Everton remain in sixth place.
With manager Joe Kinnear absent again as he continues his recovery from a triple heart bypass, Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins returned to the squad for the first time since December following a hernia injury and was named on the bench alongside Australia forward Mark Viduka. The game kicked off against the backdrop of a protest by a section of the home support against the current regime at St. James' Park at the city's Gray's Monument an hour earlier.
Everton were quickly into their stride and Dan Gosling broke from deep before blasting a low shot just wide. But the visitors suffered a major blow with three minutes gone when Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta was stretchered off after twisting his knee in a challenge with Peter Lovenkrands. Even that did not completely throw Everton though and Newcastle defender Sebastien Bassong had to clear off the line when Joseph Yobo's header was blocked by keeper Steve Harper.
Phil Jagielka volleyed a Leighton Baines cross wide at the back post seconds later before Harper had to race off his line to deny Jo after the Brazilian broke free. Harper saved his side when he blocked Jack Rodwell's volley with his legs. Newcastle should have taken the lead when Shola Ameobi flicked Ryan Taylor's pass to Nolan, who played in Lovenkrands, but the Dane pushed his shot wide of the post with only keeper Tim Howard to beat.
The match turned in Everton's favour after a moment of madness from Nolan in the 44th minute. The midfielder launched into an ugly studs-up lunge on Anichebe, leaving referee Lee Mason with no option but to send him off.
Yobo went close to giving Everton the lead early in the second half when he blasted just over the bar from a corner. Newcastle had a sight of goal when Ryan Taylor's free-kick three minutes later forced a fine stop from Howard. But Everton were on top for long periods and Newcastle stand-in manager Chris Hughton responded by sending on Martins after 58 minutes.
Everton boss David Moyes then made a switch of his own as France striker Louis Saha, making his first appearance since damaging a hamstring in November, came on. Former Newcastle standout Saha almost made an instant impact as he forced Harper into a rushed clearance of Steven Taylor's poor backpass. Saha then fired over from 25 yards and Nolan was soon breathing a sigh of relief as the final whistle sounded.