But Maritimo substitute Fidelis' late goal meant Newcastle limped rather than marched into the knockout stages of the Europa League.
The striker, who might even have snatched victory deep into stoppage time, came off the bench to cancel out Sylvain Marveaux's first Magpies goal 11 minutes from time and allow Bordeaux to climb to the top of Group D by virtue of their 2-1 victory over Club Bruges in Belgium.
Alan Pardew's men will now have to win in France on December 6 if they are to snatch back top spot in a game which will be a dead rubber in terms of qualification, but upon which much could rest as the Champions League drop outs prepare to enter the competition in the new year.
A draw was little more than the visitors deserved on a night when Newcastle once again played in fits and starts in front of a meagre crowd of 21,632.
However, the result was not the only disappointment for Pardew, who saw the in-form Hatem Ben Arfa limp off with a hamstring injury and striker Papiss Cisse follow him down the tunnel shortly after half-time.
Newcastle ran out having lost their last two games at St James' Park - to West Ham and Swansea in the Barclays Premier League - and knowing a third defeat was simply unthinkable if they were to extend their stay in Europe.
But once again, they were less than fluent in the early stages as Maritimo made light of their billing as the group's whipping boys to take the game to their hosts.
However, it was Newcastle who went ahead on 23 minutes as Marveaux slid a left-foot shot under the visiting keeper.
Newcastle looked as if they were heading for the well earned win, but Tim Krul was beaten with 12 minutes left as the powerful Fidelis burst past first Steven Taylor and then Fabricio Coloccini to blast home an equaliser.
Fidelis then volleyed across the face of goal from substitute Ruben Brigido's cross in the third minute of stoppage time, and the final whistle was greeted by boos from the home fans.