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Nic Ladds 26th Apr 2009 - 17:55

Make Martins your man to briefly make Shearer smile

For Newcastle the task is now simple - they must win against Portsmouth or relegation looks a certainty and odds of 10/11 say that they can do it.

Alan Shearer's miserable start to his Newcastle tenure has so far showed little sign of stopping and the whole of the Toon Army will pray Pompey who are 3/1 in the betting will be Shearer's first victim.

A draw would be of no good at all to the home side - a result that is at odds of 5/2 but the fact they are four points adrift of safety and haven't won in eight games does not bode well.

While there is no doubt Portsmouth are an improved team under Paul Hart, they have only won two away games all season which give Newcastle hope.

Neither of these teams has a reputation for scoring lots of goals but the Magpies are going to have to attack to get their win which could reward them with goals but leave them exposed at the back which suggests goals at both ends.

Scores like 3-1 and 3-2 to Newcastle can be backed at odds of 16/1 and 25/1 respectively, while the same scores in Pompey's favour are both 33/1.

For those who do fancy a narrow win 1-0 to Newcastle is favourite at 11/2 with 0-0 17/2.

However a draw looks a strong possibility as Newcastle have drawn more games than any other Premier League side (12) and Portsmouth have drawn seven away from home.

In this line of thinking 2-2 and 3-3 could be worth a bet at 12/1 and 50/1 respectively.

Keeping with this train of thought, over two match goals at 10/11 looks a cracking bet, with under two match goals at odds of 11/5.

So who will get all these goals? On paper Newcastle actually have quite a formidable strike force and whoever gets the nod (or is fit enough to play) out of Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins and Mark Viduka should cause the away defence problems. The trio are 9/2, 5/1 and 6/1 respectively to score the first goal.

Martins especially looked dangerous when coming on against Tottenham despite his injury and his pace and shooting power could cause the Pompey back line the most problems.

Two others of interest are set-piece guru Ryan Taylor who gets his fair share to score anytime at 7/1 and Andy Carroll, who could well be seen late on and if Newcastle are desperately attacking, odds of 13/2 about him scoring last could be a good bet.

Portsmouth meanwhile are going to look to Peter Crouch who is 13/2 to score first more than ever as Niko Kranjcar and Dave Nugent both look like they will be ruled out through injury.

Nwankwo Kanu scored the only goal against Bolton and could get his chance to shine again at 9/1 to bag first.

Barring these two few others tend to get on the score sheet for Pompey although for those wanting something at a bigger price, defenders like Herman Hreidarsson and Sylvain Distin could threaten from set-pieces at odds of 12/1 and 20/1 respectively to score anytime.

Those looking for a double result would be well advised to stay away from backing Portsmouth/Newcastle even at 22/1 as the Magpies have not won a game when they have fallen behind all season.

Instead Newcastle/draw at 14/1 looks reasonable with draw/draw 9/2 and Newcastle/Newcastle the favourite at 11/5.

This should be a lot more fascinating than it looks on paper as Newcastle effectively have nothing to lose as they're already four point adrift and everything to gain.

Portsmouth are not quite safe yet but should be fine and what makes it all the more crucial for the Toon is their run in where they have to play Liverpool and Aston Villa away so a loss or even a draw here is not an option.

Despite these facts they could leave themselves over exposed in seeking these goals and Crouch has the tools to take advantage of any mistakes.

A score draw looks the call which will ultimately not be the right result for Newcastle and will leave Shearer and the fans contemplating what life will be like in the Championship.

Recommendation:
Draw - 5/2
Obafemi Martins to score first - 5/1

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