Newport County v Carlisle United

Saturday 2nd March 2019   k.o 3:00pm

Sky Bet Football League Two


Report from Mark Vickery at Rodney Parade


Newport County 2 (Azeez 14, Amond 67)

Carlisle United 0


Attendance: 3,432



Newport County        WDdLWWLLWL

Carlisle United          WWWWLWDWWD



Competent County edge up the league



A bit of six pointer with County needing a win to get closer to the play off pack. Key County keep their shape and don’t force the issue as Carlisle have some lively options final third.

Mild, cloudy and keen breeze. Pitch looked firmer after drier spell but a little bobbly in the parts

Persistent, dynamic spells first half and showed different side after to resolutely defend a clean sheet.

Carlisle had a couple of decent chances inside a minute midway through the first half which proved costly.

County made just the one change with Tyreeq Bakinson sacrificed to the bench in place of new signing from Cambridge United Adebayo Azeez. He went up front to partner Jamille Matt and Padraig Amond with County adopting a 4-3-3 formation. County set an early precedent offering plenty of enterprise and a good tempo with the ball in the final third. County tested Carlisle with a couple of hopeful crosses which worked centre backs Parkes and former Cardiff City player Gerrard. Carlisle were keen to use their left side with former Everton player Hallam Hope an eager outlet. On 8 minutes, Carlisle worked a chance out of nothing when O’Hare turned off a challenge by Bennett and showed good awareness to pick out the run of Scougall who timed his run to beat the offside trap. His snapshot from the edge of the area was beaten away by County keeper Day and the follow up by Cullen was narrowly wide of the left post after some good pressure by Poole. County continued to pick holes well coming forward and Carlisle were given another warning on 12 minutes. Willmott was at the heart of the move with a clever darting run to force left back Grainger into the right corner. He showed good vision to cut a low pass back which Amond anticipated superbly but his low shot from 12 yards crashed against the right post and along the line before being cleared by Parkes. County kept the heat on were close to opening the scoring again moments later when a through ball down the middle split the defence and Matt was goalside of Gerrard and just about to pull the trigger near the edge of the box but Gerrard was able to divert with the finest of touches. County took the lead on 14 minutes with well worked goal catching Carlisle sleeping when they worked a move left side of the area to win a corner. Dolan dinked over an excellent cross into the six yard box which was glanced on well by Amond and Azeez was alive at the back post to poke the ball home from close range. County were lifted by the goal and gave Carlisle little respite with some good movement in the final third and Azeez and Matt doing well in the aerial duals. On 18 minutes, County had a decent chance to go further ahead when Butler won possession well from Scougall left flank and slip a precise low pass to find Amond. He was clever shielding the ball and set up a neat exchange with Azeez who drove forward to the edge of the area before striking a decent shot from 16 yards which keeper Collin parried around the right post. Carlisle remained a threat with some slick exchanges on the break with another former Cardiff City player Kelvin Etuhu coordinating some patient moves from deep. Carlisle had a couple of decent chances inside a minute on 20 minutes when O’Hare again caused problems turning off a challenge to find space in midfield. He showed good vision to thread a pass down the left side of the area for Scougall who struck a decent effort from an acute angle which Day parried wide of the left post. From the resultant corner, County were unable to get the ball safe and the ball dropped invitingly for Parkes but the central defender dragged his low effort just wide of the left post from 10 yards. Carlisle gained some belief from their chances with Cullen doing more prominent work in the final third getting across Demetriou and O’Brien to win some good challenges. On 27 minutes, County were little lax defending a kick out from Collin gifting possession back to Carlisle and Cullen again showed his eagerness to get in a shot blasting just over from 25 yards. County worked hard to contain their lead with Carlisle having the better of the possession and using the middle of the pitch better. County were forced to make a change on 31 minutes with Dolan not recovering from knock in a tackle and he was replaced by Sheehan. As half time approached, County regained the initiative working the ball smarter final third with plenty of verve. On 38 minutes, Sheehan played an excellent ball through the middle and Azeez forced his way past Gerrard but the defender was able to recover back with vital interception to make amends. County had a looked threatening on crosses and set pieces throughout the first half and Carlisle had a lucky escape on 40 minutes. Willmott started the move stealing possession of Grainger on the right flank. His strong run carried him to the byline but he cut back a vicious cross unsettling the Carlisle defence and Matt anticipated the loose ball very well on the right side of the six yard box only to see his effort beaten away by the alert Collin. On 44 minutes, Sheehan went on a mazy run near the edge of the area which unsettled the Carlisle defence but he appeared to slip turning inside the box and was harshly booked by referee. County were buoyant and another bright move on the stroke of half time saw Poole ghost past Grainger and chip back a deft cross which Amond met with a good header from 10 yards but Collins was able to claim in the left corner. County had forced several free kick from Carlisle but a number went unpunished and another deep inside time saw Azeez crudely checked by Parkes but the referee blew up for half time much to the frustration of the crowd.

County started the second half purposively with Azeez a nuisance with his care with the ball and strength to keep it under pressure. On 47 minutes, Azeez span off a challenge and Grainger handled the ball in a dangerous position right side well in the Carlisle half. The referee somewhat leniently allowed the full back to escape without a card and the free kick by Willmott was precisely delivered into the six yard box and Matt was just over with his header under pressure from Parkes from 6 yards. Carlisle made efforts to pick up their game playing at a faster pace which gained them some territorial advantage and County had to be vigilant tracking runs especially right side with Slater and Scougall working well in tandem. After dealing with a better spell of possession, County snapped out of their shell on 55 minutes when a slick counter attack right side saw Poole release Willmott down the right flank. He cut back an excellent cross which beat the last but exposed defender Parkes but just eluded the outstretched foot of Azeez who made a good supporting run to keep up with Willmott. Carlisle kept plugging away but got little change from County especially on crosses which Day was able to claim with ease or the County defence were resolutely defending. Carlisle had Gerrard in the book on 60 minutes for what appeared to be for dissent when Amond was receiving treatment for a knock. County continued to add to their corner count with Poole going close a couple of times with County having the height advantage. County needed a second goal and it eventually came on 67 minutes from another clever set piece. Willmott took the corner right side playing a short corner to Amond at the front post. He cut back a good pass to the feet of Sheehan on the right corner of the box and his cross was met well by Matt with his downward header dropping invitingly and Amond pounced to score from 6 yards. Carlisle made an immediate change sacrificing Etuhu in midfield for Thomas who went right midfield. Carlisle flirted with goal on 70 minutes when a patient move across the face of the area invited Slater to shoot but his effort was weak and wide of the right post. Carlisle kept pressing on the right flank and Thomas was prominent on 73 minutes with a run into the right corner crossing deep but Hope could only hit the side netting from a very acute angle. County made a change on 75 minutes with Matt replaced to Labadie with County seeking regain some foothold in the middle of the pitch. County continued to work some intelligent ball in behind to turn the Carlisle defence with Gerrard and Parkes vulnerable to pace. On 80 minutes, County got a corner on the left side after Gerrard had run the ball over the line clearing. Willmott whipped over a decent delivery which was only half cleared and Bennett was unfortunate to see his rasping effort blocked by Thomas. On 82 minutes, County were close to a third when Willmott did well to prise the ball off Grainger right side of the area and he adjusted to shoot from 18 yards but Gerrard got an important intervention in. County made another change on 85 minutes with McKirdy replacing Azeez with County working hard to close down and press mistakes. Labadie got himself somewhat unluckily booked moments later when he went up for 50-50 challenge with Liddle but he was penalised to being late despite having to receive attention. Carlisle made another change on 86 minutes with McCarron replacing Hope with them forcing the issue late on. On 87 minutes, Carlisle directed a free kick into the area which appeared to get caught on the wind and looked to be harmlessly going out. The referee then stunned the crowd with no appeals on or off the pitch by awarding a penalty. Grainger to the spot kick but there was some poetic justice with Day making a good save in the right corner. County were happy to absorb the late pressure applied by Carlisle and play on the break in the final minutes. In the second minute of the five minutes of injury time, County swept forward with slick break from deep with Butler driving forward to link after a precise pass by Matt. From the byline, Butler chipped back a deft cross which Labadie met but his shot from 10 yards went just over the bar. Thomas was then booked for Carlisle for an untidy late challenge on Butler who did well to sweep up some danger from a ball played in behind. County held on strongly in the remaining minutes for an important but deserved win.

Day (8) – stood tall to make a couple of important saves first half and claimed well on crosses. Kicked well under pressure and quick to distribute. Instinctive smart save on penalty.

Poole (7) –  solid game, asked questions of first half but dealt well with Hope. Timed tackles and headers well and was bright getting forward when able going close on set pieces.  

Butler (7) –  was forced back on times and restricted on crosses but did a good job denying space on crosses. Was precise with his distribution and set pieces.

O’Brien (8) –  made his headers well, made some great interventions and was calm with his use of the ball. Kept concentration to sweep up danger in behind and clear danger.

Demetriou (7) – put under pressure on times by Cullen, didn’t have his own way in the air but picked his battles well knowing when to get tight and stand off.

Bennett (7) – did a good job protecting in front of defence, won his fair quota of tackles and always best shifting ball low. Went close a couple times on set pieces and deserved goal.

Willmott (7) – provided usual quota of crosses and worked left back into submission. Was forced to do his defensive work especially after the break but timed his runs well.

Dolan (6) – got amongst the early play and provided some good crosses including the first goal but injured forced him off, replaced by:

Sheehan (6) – was tidy with his passes and enterprise in and around the box but a little passive on times in the middle not really asserting his game.

Azeez (8) – unsettled defence with his off the ball work but when he did have it was always a nuisance with strength and linked well with Matt. Always a threat before fading late on.

Matt (7) – won some key headers inside the area and went close several times from close range. Showed a different side to his game today to turn provider and passed well

Amond (8) – worked tirelessly, dropped back to link well between midfield and attack. Initiated second goal before sealing it and always a threat with guile in and around the box.



Strengths –
they were slick working the ball low and precise with their passing and offered pace on the break

Weaknesses –  full backs error prone and centre backs switched off several times struggling to deal with pace in behind. Vulnerable on set pieces and predictable on approach play  

Opportunities –  never really changed their tactics. Were patient and mobile final third and comfortable with ball at feet but subs never really altered gameplan
Threats –
most of the best play and threat went through Cullen who had an eye for a shot. O’Hare linked and passed well, Scougall was bright and energetic left side.

R Joyce (5) – inconsistent game puzzling players and crowd, let down by several poor decisions aside from bizarre penalty. Allowed several indiscretions for pulling go unpunished

Adebayo Azeez – impressive debut, settled in quickly, always on the back of the defenders and gave County a new dimension final third which could be key in the coming weeks.


County had a few points to prove today and from the offset they had a good balance and were enterprising final third carving several good chances. They made Carlisle look laboured on times and it was only the threat they carried on the break which County had to tame. The key today was the flexibility they had to their game-plan and they were always capable on set pieces having the height dominance. County did fade a little towards the final quarter of the game and perhaps needed to get a stronger grip in the middle of the pitch on times to buy time, but they seemed happy to keep the game open as chances came their way. County have had more problems adopting the same tact away from home and as effective as the three up top were today they may need the extra player across the middle on their travels. Northampton should not be underestimated as they have picked up their form in recent weeks and will be a different outfit to the lacklustre side that played at Rodney Parade with Williams pivotal outlet up front and O’Toole in behind. County can certainly put their full backs under pressure but they will need to exercise better control in midfield as they did in the home match which starved the Cobblers of chances.