Newport County v Tranmere Rovers

Saturday 25th May 2019   k.o 3:00pm

Sky Bet League Two Play Off Final


Report from Mark Vickery at Wembley


Newport County 0

Tranmere Rovers 1 (Jennings 119)


Attendance: 25,217



Newport County        ddWWdWWDDD

Tranmere Rovers      WLdWLdDLWD         



County Robbed



Warm day and big Wembley pitch so key County move the ball efficiently. Tranmere have not conceded many goals this season so it will be a war of attrition today.

Sunny spells and very sultry inside stadium with little breeze. Pitch in excellent condition.

Battled in the face of adversity, galvanised and very unfortunate not to have a crack at penalties.

Two key decisions inside a minute when referee missed penalty trip on Matt and then O’Brien was sent off.

County kept the same side that overcame Mansfield in the semi finals with Bakinson replacing Randall on the bench. County started with purpose forcing Tranmere quite deep. On 2 minutes, a long throw by Demetriou right side of the area was launched into the six yard box and Matt glanced wide of the left post. County created another bright move moments later with Sheehan slipping a good low pass for Amond and he wriggled free of Nelson but was denied by a vital recovering tackle by Monthe just as he was about to pull the trigger. Tranmere set their stall out to absorb pressure and play in sporadic bursts on the break with Perkins and Harris linking play efficiently. On 5 minutes, Perkins slipped a neat pass through the middle for Jennings and his deflected effort from 20 yards was claimed low down by Day. County were finding space well right side with Willmott seeing plenty of the ball and a decent move on 7 minutes saw him cut a decent ball back to the edge of the area flatfooting the Tranmere defence but Matt saw his snapshot well by blocked by Monthe. County continued to enjoy plenty of territorial possession with Labadie making some powerful runs forward. On 10 minutes, County won a free kick left side of the area after Labadie had been checked. Willmott delivered a decent cross which Amond glanced on well from 10 yards but it just eluded the run off Matt back post. Tranmere created a good break on 12 minutes switching play from left to right to find the run of Norwood right side of the area. He did well to manufacture a cross cut back to the edge of the area which Jennings fired over the bar. On 15 minutes, County worked another decent move right side with Willmott doing well to combine with Amond and his deft flick inside was seized on well by Bennett who scooped a rushed effort over the bar. Tranmere offered most threat right side with left back Caprice getting forward into some prominent positions. On 25 minutes, Tranmere were close when Caprice drove to the right byline and his cross into the area pinpointed Norwood who struck a sweet first time volley from 12 yards which Day reacted well to parry around the left post. A couple of interruptions in the play saw a welcome drinks break for the players before Willmott again went on strong run on 30 minutes but his shot from 18 yards was tame allowing Davies an easy save low down right side. County were more cutting left side as half time approach with Butler coming into the game and couple of first time crosses caused anxiety with some rushed clearances by the Tranmere defence. Tranmere remained a threat in transition when they countered from deep. On 37 minutes, Harris broke up play in central midfield and found Perkins but his low effort from 25 yards was saved comfortably low down by Day. On 42 minutes, Tranmere had a glimmer of chance when Perkins stole possession in central midfield and he worked a ball to the right for Perkins. He had time to carry his run right side and pinpoint a deft cross into the box for Norwood but his header from 10 yards was well over the bar.

Tranmere made efforts to carry the play deeper into the County half in the early stages of the second half. On 49 minutes, County had a great chance to punish them when Labadie broke up play in the middle. Willmott seized the loose ball and a strong run down the middle exposed Tranmere and with options either side his pass to Sheehan invited a shot from 18 yards which Nelson blocked well. On 53 minutes, Tranmere made an early change with Harris replaced by Pringle. County kept the heat on and another move with energy caused problems when a cross from the left side by Butler was overplayed but Willmott picked up on the flight striking an opportunist effort wide of the right post from 20 yards. On 55 minutes, Matt was booked for putting his foot up to delay a quick kick from Tranmere keeper Davies despite the ball being out of his hands. County continued to use their left channel well with Butler working Caprice back into the corner with some clever runs and crosses. On 60 minutes, Butler did well to overlap and cut back a cross towards the edge of the area which Labadie stabbed narrowly wide of the right post from 12 yards. Tranmere were forced to play on the break with Jennings the key cog and O’Brien was forced into an untidy challenge to deny his mazy run on 67 minutes. On 70 minutes, County had a decent looking chance when a direct ball forward by Poole was glanced on by Matt to the right side and Willmott was well positioned but he delayed his effort somewhat allowing Monthe to recover and block the shot from the edge of the area. County made a change on 72 minutes with Dolan replacing Labadie. County were close again on 73 minutes from another sweeping move left side after Sheehan released Butler. His cross from corner was tantalising and met well by Matt back post but Davies was able to just keep the ball out with a low save at the front post. On 77 minutes, Perkins was in the book when caught Dolan late with a tackle from behind. County continued to look the most likely to side pinch the side in normal time offering energy in the final third. On 80 minutes, Matt did well to glance on a direct ball into the box and Amond read the loose ball dropping deep but his low effort from an acute angle was saved low by Davies. Tranmere made a defensive change on 82 minutes with McNulty replacing Morris as Tranmere reverted to 3-5-2. County them had calls for a penalty moments turned down moments later when McNulty tackled low down on Matt deep inside the box as he was about to turn. Tranmere remained a threat on the break with Jennings pushing further forward to support Norwood but the County defence marshalled the threat well clearing the danger into row Z. On 88 minutes, County won a long throw right side which Demetriou launched into the area which Tranmere allowed to drop and Matt span off two defenders only to be clipped by Monthe. With a clear view of the incident, the referee turned a blind eye incensing the County players and fans. Tranmere caught County cold moments later when after being forced deep they switched play from right to the left wing and Norwood coaxed O’Brien into a untidy challenge and the referee sent him off for a second bookable offence. County put Bennett into central defence with Amond dropping into midfield and the adjusted well restricting Tranmere to just one just in the second minute of injury time when Banks carried his run box to box to release Norwood but his tired effort from left side of the area went wide of the left post.

County made a change at the start of extra time with Bakinson replacing Sheehan. Tranmere had the dominance in possession using the extra man to their benefit but were let down b the final ball often overplaying the pass. County absorbed the pressure well looking but were forced into direct play to find Matt who did his best to provide an outlet but was often exposed. On 103 minutes, County introduced a brave change with Azeez replacing Matt which gave County some impetus again. On 105 minutes, a bright move right side saw Willmott expose plenty of space and his deft cross was met by Amond from 10 yards but Davies saved low in the right corner. County made another change soon after with Marsh-Brown replacing Willmott.

On 106 minutes, Dolan did well to contest a cross field ball and Marsh-Brown was alert picking up the loose ball and carried his run deep into the area only to see his low shot from an acute angle fizz just past the right post. On 108 minutes, a swift Tranmere break saw Jennings play a precise pass through the middle for Norwood but his crisp shot was diverted by Demetriou and flashed wide of the left post. On 111 minutes, Banks crept forward from midfield to exploit an increasing amount of space but his rising effort from 25 yards was tired going well over the bar. Poole was then booked for clumsy late challenge on Jennings who continued to cause problems with his efficient use of the ball. Tranmere made another change on 115 which was like for like with Nelson being replaced by Buxton. Tranmere kept forcing the issue with the extra man using the right side to push County back. Perkins then caught Azeez extremely late on 116 minutes to deny a run forward right side but the referee failed to bring out another card. On 118 minutes, Banks dinked over a cross from the right corner which Norwood read but his low effort from 10 yards was saved and held well by Day in the right corner. Tranmere got the winning goal in the final minute of injury time when County squandered possession cheaply and Caprice stole forward on the right side. From a tight position, he managed to cut back a decent cross into the six yard which caught County short defending the front post and Jennings stole in to head home unmarked. County made efforts to get something in the 3 minutes of injury time pushing players forward and throwing crosses deep in area but Tranmere defended their line well with three central defenders. County pushed keeper Joe Day forward for a couple of free kicks but they were unable to the goal they ultimately deserved and were cruelly robbed of the opportunity to take the spot kicks.

Day (7) – certainly wasn’t overworked but made some good saves low down and kept concentration. Kicked well under pressure and distributed efficiently.

Poole (7) –  had to deal with industry and quick feet of Jennings but did well in general winning his tackles and clearing effectively.

Butler (8) –  saw glimpses first half of threat and his crosses were always a problem especially when delivered early. At the heart of the best moves especially second half.

O’Brien (6) –  kept his focus after somewhat harsh first booking stifling well and saw the danger early clearing effectively. One rash moment proved costly late on.

Demetriou (7) –  dominated aerial duals and dealt well with the backing in by Norwood marshalling him into areas he didn’t want to go. Made some good clearances under pressure

Labadie (7) – carried County high up the pitch for large spells first half and close to getting on the end of a couple of chances before fading.

Bennett (6) – did a lot of the dirty work in the middle sitter deeper and won some good tackles. Dropped back into defence in extra time and did well to deny chances.

Willmott (6) –  can’t fault his endeavour , put in good set pieces and probably saw more of the ball than any player first half but indecision allowed Tranmere off the hook on times. 

Sheehan (7) – was effective with link play and craft final third creating and setting up crosses. Probably doesn’t want season to end and got his sharpness back last couple of months

Matt (7) – did well in the air and dropped off into some clever positions especially second half. Got denied several times later on with shots blocked and certain penalty.

Amond (6) – restricted to a couple of headers and early chance went begging. Worked hard throughout and despite dropping deeper in injury time played his part.


Strengths –
they were composed throughout, pressed in midfield and stuck to their game-plan with some well organised moves from deep and crosses from the byline.   

Weaknesses – never really got through any gears and overplayed several passes with predictable balls to turn County in behind.

Opportunities – got players quickly up the pitch to support Norwood but were more balanced possibly when they went 3-5-2 later on.
Threats –
Norwood had an eye for a shot and cross. Jennings key link and prepared to shoot. Caprice was forceful right side and his crosses were cutting.

R Joyce (5) – not sure how County got more bookings in this one. Was keen to play advantage as much as possible. Missed stonewall penalty late on.

Connor Jennings – never stopped supporting play, in the end got the vital goal but his industry and movement made him hard to pick up.   


It was a very cruel way to lose such a key match and the injustice felt with some decisions against County makes this a bitter pill to swallow when there was no time to come back. County had managed the game very well right up to the sending off and even then in the face of adversity, their efforts in extra time merited a chance of penalties at the very least. Tranmere were forced to alter their game and bring on another central defender late in the game such was their concern and you felt County had them exactly where they wanted and they could gamble with three up front if needed in extra time. The margins were wafer thin today and County could easily be the side playing League One but considering the size and strains on this squad they have done very to get to the play off final and this experience will serve them well. County should be very proud of their achievements this season in the league and magical cup runs introducing new fans. Despite the inevitable squad adjustments rumoured, if they can retain the core of this team and its values they can go one further next season. It is all about getting recruitment right now and County have put themselves on the map this season as an attractive club to play.