SOME baffling refereeing decisions and poor finishing prevented Newcastle from securing their eighth home win of the campaign.
At the final whistle the man in the middle Graham Salisbury was about as popular among the Newcastle faithful as Mike Ashley after denying what looked a certain penalty but the home side also had themselves to blame after a host of chances went begging.
And City goalkeeper Dean Gerken was in sparkling form after being thrown into the fray following Adriano Basso's late withdrawal through injury. Chris Hughton made changes to the side that drew to QPR in midweek at both ends of the pitch with Marlon Harewood handed his first start partnering Peter Lovenkrands in attack.
Jose Enrique had tweaked his hamstring before the game forcing the manager to switch Danny Simpson to left-back while Ryan Taylor returned to the right side of defence.
Newcastle should have taken the lead inside 10 minutes when the new strikeforce showed an immediate understanding. Jonas Gutierrez dinked a ball to Lovenkrands who found Harewood in space but Newcastle's number 10 thumped his shot against the upright.
The home side shaded a low key first half but City went close through Nicky Maynard and Alvaro Saborio courtesy of slack Newcastle defending. And Steve Harper needed to be alert when a tame Zurab Khizanishvili backpass allowed Lee Johnson to poke an effort at goal that trickled wide.
But Newcastle had the better chances and Alan Smith almost opened his Magpies account when his turn and shot forced Gerken to make a smart save to his left.
In the second half Newcastle spurned a hatful of opportunities to take put the game beyond Gary Johnson's side. Lovenkrands ghosted past three City defenders before sending a low shot skimming wide.
And two superb reaction saves in the space of 30 seconds by Gerken first from from Danny Guthrie and then Kevin Nolan kept the vistors in the game.
It seemed like Newcastle were destined not to score when chaos in the Bristol penalty box saw Steven Taylor and Nolan headed against the bar. And when substitute Jamie McCombe brought down Harewood in the penalty area the referee's decision to wave play on was mystifying but typified Newcastle's luck in front of goal.
Substitute Andy Carroll also went close with a long range effort but the City rearguard held firm.
NEWCASTLE (4-4-2): Harper,R Taylor,S Taylor,Khizhanishvili,Simpson,Gutierrez (Carroll 65),Guthrie (Ranger 85),Nolan,Smith,Lovenkrands,Harewood. Subs not used: Krul(gk),Geremi,Butt,Kadar,Donaldson
BRISTOL CITY (4-4-2): Basso,Orr,McAllister (McCombe 46),Carey,Nyatanga,Elliott,Johnson (Williams 72),Maynard,Skuse,Sno,Saborio (Haynes 59). Subs not used: Clarkson,Hartley,Sproule
Referee: Graham Salisbury (Preston)