Newport County v Cambridge United

Saturday 29th September 2018   k.o 3:00pm

Sky Bet Football League Two

 

Report from Mark Vickery at Rodney Parade

 

Newport County 4 (Demetriou 45+1 pen, Amond 49, Matt 60 ,63)

Cambridge United 2 (Lambe 4, 21)

 

Attendance: 3,104

 

Form:

Newport County        WDWWLWWLWW    

Cambridge United    WLDLLWLLLD      

 

 

Great Comeback stuns Cambridge

 

 

PRE-MATCH THOUGHTS
County are missing a couple of key player with keeper Joe Day and Matt Dolan missing. Key County adjust and get at a Cambridge side struggling on confidence.

CONDITIONS
Sunny, calm, clear and quite warm. Pitch in decent condition and looked less watered on top.

SUMMING UP OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Flexible and determined, bounced back after the early setback.

TURNING POINT
County goal to get back into game on the stroke of half time was key psychologically

THE MATCH
County made two change from the 1-0 at Tranmere last weekend with Matt Dolan suffering a knock and he was replaced by Josh Sheehan. County keeper Joe Day was not in the team and his place with taken by reserve keeper Nick Townsend. County were dealt a blow after 2 minutes when Cambridge launched a testing direct ball down the middle which O’Brien stretched out to clear but appeared to pull his hamstring and was replaced by Cooper. County adjusted with Scott Bennett reverting into central midfield with Sheehan reverting to a deep holding role. Cambridge sensed a little uncertainty in the County defence and worked some neat balls to either flank with Lambe left and Brown on the right side of Ibehre who offered a target. Cambridge took a shock lead on 4 minutes when left back Carroll stole forward with too much invitation to provide a pass to Lambe left side of the area. He roamed inside evading a challenge from Sheehan to find space before curling into the right corner from 20 yards. County picked up their approach play using the ball well to feet and Semenyo and Amond were bright up front. On 10 minutes, with Cambridge forced to defend deep inside their own area a panicky clearance was met on the half volley by Amond from 12 yards but it went just wide of the left corner of post and bar. Cambridge were largely direct using Ibehre as an outlet and his robust approach allowed him to bring in other players from deep with Maris and O’Neil pressing up in the middle. On 15 minutes, another move left side by Cambridge caused problems when Lambe broke away from a tackle by Forbes and set up Maris who was invited to shoot from 25 yards but his rising effort went over the bar. County were close moment later when Butler drove forward left side and his pace took him past right back Halliday before swinging in super cross which Cambridge struggled to clear. Sheehan anticipated the loose ball well but he poked an effort from 10 yards wide of the right post under pressure from Taylor. County worked a couple of decent moves right side with Forbes prominent but Cambridge remained vigilant clearing with centre back Taft and John winning their headers. Cambridge continued to work the ball to wide areas well and stunned County adding a second goal on 21 minutes through the industry of Brown right side of the box. He jinked past Bennett slipping a  low pass into Lambe who found himself in a more unfamiliar position right side of the area but was allowed too much space curling a precise effort into the top left corner from 14 yards. County were shaken by the goal and despite having more possession they became impatient on times looking for the more difficult pass instead of working Cambridge about the pitch. Cambridge worked hard to protect their lead with the front three continuing to cause problems carrying the ball into wide positions. County were struggling to assert their game in the middle of the pitch and made another change on 39 minutes but this time it was tactical with Sheehan replaced by Matt who went up front into a three and Bennett slotted back stabilising the three man midfield. County settled down looking more balanced and won a couple corners on the right side after some good approach play involving Forbes. On 42 minutes, there was a warning for Cambridge when struggled to deal with a Butler corner on the right side and Bennett saw his downward header from 6 yards go fizzing past the left post. County added to their corner count with Cambridge increasingly anxious dealing with the aerial threat but they managed to shift the ball to safety. The pressure told deep in first half injury when Amond did very well to chase a pass released by Forbes right side of the area. The ball appeared to be going out by Amond got to the byline to cut back an excellent delivery which went deep and Cooper anticipated well but was crudely checked by O’Neil. The referee pointed to the spot and Demetriou took a confident low penalty sending Forde the wrong way.

County were out early for the second half and with Cambridge leaving the changing room late the early signs were ominous. County had the bit between their teeth and were close to equalising on 47 minutes when Semenyo steamrolled down the left side beating right back Halliday and penetrating to the byline. He got into a threatening position but his low into the six yard box was intercepted by John ahead of Amond. County kept persevering and were back on level terms with 49 minutes played when Butler swept forward from deep to overlap and receive a linking pass with Semenyo. Butler drove to the byline before cutting back a superb cross which Amond read winning the race ahead of John to volley home from 6 yards. County were lifted by the goal and the front three gave little respite to Cambridge with Semenyo tenaciously stretching the left flank, Matt doing well in the aerial duals down the middle and Amond probing the right side. County worked a couple decent ball down the middle of the pitch with Matt unsettling the Cambridge defence and the keeper Forde was forced into a couple of nerve collections at the feet of Semenyo and Matt. County took the lead on 60 minutes, catching Cambridge asleep with a quick free kick and exchange by Semenyo and Butler who drove to the left byline. Despite being pressed, Butler cut back a brilliant cross into the six yard box and Matt pounced with a trademark finish to head into the left corner for his sixth goal of the season. County were purring with Cambridge struggled to put two passes together and they added a fourth goal on 63 minutes when a quickly taken throw saw Butler forge ahead of Halliday and his cute cross into the box was anticipated superbly by Matt with another strong headed finish from 8 yards this time into the top right corner. Cambridge were stunned and another corner soon after on the right side by Butler was glanced on by Demetriou dangerously to the back post and Amond was unfortunate to have his shot blocked near the left post. Cambridge caught County off guard on 66 minutes when a slick move through the middle saw Lambe ride a marginal looking offside goal but he missed a chance for his hat trick when his low shot from 12 yards was parried wide of the right post by Townsend. Cambridge made a change in midfield on 67 minutes to firm up their defence with Taft being replaced by Lewis. Cambridge made another change on 70 minutes with Azeez going up front in place of Brown. Cambridge had a better spell of possession for a time with more cohesion offered by Azeez offering some verve on the right flank. County were frustrated by several infringement for pulling and clambering often ignored by the referee and added frustration when free kicks went against them. On 82 minutes, Cambridge had a free kick in a decent position near the “d” after Bakinson had checked the run of Halliday. Maris took the free kick but it went into the wall and for a corner which came to nothing. Cambridge made their final change with Corr replacing O’Neil. Cambridge elected to play more direct in the final stages with some testing balls in the area but the County defence remained focussed showing composure to clear. County made a late substitute with Semenyo replaced for a more defensive option of Pring who went left midfield. County had calls for another penalty just into the five minutes of injury time with Butler again providing a decent cross and Pring appeared to be bowled over by John but the appeals fell on death ears. County were happy to run down the clock and not push on too many players in the final minutes and got a fervent applause at the end for turning the game on its head.

Townsend (6) –  put under pressure with some kicks and struggled for distance on times. Did well making some smart parries low down and good save to deny Lambe his hat trick.  

Forbes (6) – lost his way for a time early in the game under pressure from Lambe but recovered well and settled down to make some good tackles playing well in a four.

Butler (8) – dealt well with Brown and really upped his game second half forcing the play in the left corner and set up two of the goals with precise delivery. Took corners well.

Demetriou (6) –  appeared to be caught out on the second goal and after some anxious early moments adjusted well winning the aerial duals and distributing well from deep.

Bennett (7) – showed his versatility again playing swapping between defence and midfield. Read the game well and made some well timed challenges. Kept passing simple and tidy.

Franks (6) – did well in the aerial duals and dealt well with Ibehre. Mopped up to make some good clearances in behind and lead defence well in the four.

Bakinson (5) poor game by his standard recently, struggled to retain possession and ran into dead ends. Let down by bad decision making today and lacked composure  

O’Brien was replaced early on by:

Cooper (6) –  clearly needs matches, grew slowly into the game. Was careless with passing first half but did well box to box, competing well and linking play.

Sheehan (5) –  quiet game and despite passing neatly never really adapted when he went deep after O’Brien injury as replaced by:

Matt (8) – changed the course of the game with his aerial prowess and link play. Did better with back to goal lay off and showed his finishing ability inside the area.

Amond (7) –  worked tirelessly chasing lost causes and did well on the cross leading up to the penalty. Played wider after change but intelligently used the ball

Semenyo (8) –  nuisance throughout, came alive second half showed good understanding with Matt, but his effort of the ball was key today working defenders and winning free kicks.

 

 

SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths –
they were bold playing three up front and caused problems early on with carrying the ball with pace.

Weaknesses –  anxious dealing with corners and slow aligning to deal with crosses. When County upper tempo of their game they became weary giving cheap free kicks.

Opportunities – they were keen to work wide areas but did offer short spell of better possession second half before more direct play late on.
Threats –
 Lambe pace, direct run left side and eye for goal, Ibehre robust and link play. Maris linking moves final third with precise passes.

OFFICIALS
B Huxtable (6) – got key decisions right but tended to frustrate players and fans alike ignoring the pulling and clambering but eager to give cheap fouls


MAN OF THE MATCH
Antoine Semenyo – the off the ball work to hound the Cambridge defence and pull them about was key. Won several free kicks with strength and linked well rarely wasting the ball

IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Some great goals today to turn the game around which saw County finish strongly. County allowed to much luxury for Cambridge to wander with runs inside early on and the move to put Sheehan deeper when O’Brien went off backfired somewhat. County were in a difficult position but a bold move to go 433 and introduce Matt changed the landscape with them playing further up the pitch, errors crept in the Cambridge defending. County didn’t play at their full capacity but still got the points and they have a knack of doing it this this season often winning matches such as Oldham and Port Vale when they did not assert their attacking game. County are going to have games when their more accustomed wing back system is going to be tried but important they show flexibility to change tact. They did that in buckets today and with the absence of key players such as Dolan and Day it was important win. Bakinson was quiet today so County will be keen to get him back playing more effectively and will need to improve their control of the game box to box. Next up are Macclesfield Town who have struggled to adapt to life in League Two since promotion. County can expect a more confrontational game with Macclesfield it will be a war of attrition down the flanks with full backs key and County will need to deal with crosses to target Blissett.