Joe Kinnear saw Newcastle give themselves a mountain to climb and then almost make it as Blackburn beat them 2-1 to condemn them to a fifth successive defeat.
Goals from Christopher Samba and Roque Santa Cruz gave Rovers a deserved half-time lead at St James' Park as the Magpies wilted once again.
But they staged a fightback after the break when skipper Michael Owen converted a 48th-minute penalty to spark a much-improved second-half display, although one which ultimately came up short.
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