Cheltenham Town v Newport County

Saturday 24th November 2018  k.o 3:00pm

Sky Bet Football League Two

 

Report from Mark Vickery at Whaddon Road

 

Cheltenham Town 2 (Boyle 18, Barnett 44)

Newport County 1 (Semenyo 89)

 

Attendance: 3,672

 

Form:

Newport County        WDDWLDLWWW

Cheltenham Town     DLLWDdWWWW           

 

 

Too little too late

 

 

PRE-MATCH THOUGHTS
County can expect a battle today with Cheltenham showing signs of recovery from a poor start. Some County injuries means the midfield is looking a bit light.

CONDITIONS
Mild, cloudy with a light breeze. Pitch in reasonable condition but glossy on top.

SUMMING UP OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Failed to assert game first half, too passive but didn’t really do enough today despite late rally .

TURNING POINT
Poor second goal was charitable and costly on stroke of half time.

THE MATCH
County were forced into a couple of changes in midfield with Matt Dolan and Robbie Willmott injured allowing Charlie Cooper and Cameron Pring a chance to impress. Cheltenham made their intentions clear from the start with an early cross from Hussey left side delivered into the six yard cross and Day claimed well but was caught crudely late by Barnett. Cheltenham were keen to work their right flank with Newport born Ryan Broom busy with the ball at this feet working the corners. On 5 minutes, Cheltenham forced a corner right side which they took short and set up Tozer with a chance from the edge of the area which he fired well over the bar. The game remained competitive in the middle and County got bogged down with a number of challenges in the middle with Cheltenham having the physical edge and were also seeing the ball quicker. County were on the end of a couple of cynical challenges with Matt and Semenyo doing their best to hold up play but Cheltenham continued to interrupt and stifle the flow. On 16 minutes, County were given another warning allowing Hussey to Broom the freedom of the park to attack from deep. He did well to overlap and receive a pass off Barnett who stole the ball ahead of Demetriou and cut back a decent cross into the area. Varney read the flight of the ball well but his header from 10 yards flashed well wide of the left post. County failed to heed to the warning allowing Cheltenham freedom to pinpoint crosses and Broom again was pivotal with the opening goal on 18 minutes. County struggled to clear a set piece and Broom drove inside from the right flank and his deft chip into the area found Boyle who brushed off Matt to head into the right corner from 10 yards. County made efforts to pick up their game with more determination to pass the ball and drag Cheltenham about the pitch. County had a couple of good situations from moves across the face of the area and went close on 28 minutes when Semenyo saw his snapshot from 14 yards blocked well by Boyle. Cheltenham continued with their tact to push County back pressing play well in midfield and work the ball wide especially right side with Butler put under pressure in the air. Cheltenham used the weapon of a long throw by Tozer well but there were opportunities for County to respond on the break but the final pass was often lacking bite. On 35 minutes, a much better more cohesive County move saw them stretch play well shifting the ball from left to right and Semenyo played a ball wide for Cooper right side of box. He struck a low shot from acute angle which the keeper Flinders did well to save with his legs. On 38 minutes, County were rewarded with a corner from a quick counter left side that caught Cheltenham out. Butler whipped in a decent delivery despite being on the wrong side and Franks met the cross well with a strong header which Flinders fumbled but the ball was scrambled to safety. Cheltenham picked up their game again as half time approached with Varney and Barnett working hard off the ball up front and the robust Atangana and agile Clements combining well in the midfield. On 44 minutes, Cheltenham extended their league making the most of luxury County allowed them to cut inside from the left channel. Left back Hussey instigated the move coming inside on his less favoured foot and with Semenyo slow to track, he managed to strike a shot with outside of his left foot rather than his weaker left. Day appeared to misjudge the bounce and when the ball went loose Barnett was alive quickest slotting the rebound away. Cheltenham were boosted by extending their lead and Broom was again close in first half injury roaming into space with ease before curling a shot from 25 yards just around the right post.

County were sent out early for the second half, no doubt on the end of some harsh words from County manager Mike Flynn. There was too changes to freshen up the passive midfield with Andy Crofts making a welcome return from injury in place of Cooper and O’Brien replacing Pring with County reverting to a 3-4-3 formation. County started more determined pressing play harder but Franks was booked on 48 minutes for a tackle behind on Barnett. Cheltenham set their stall out sit in and protect lead but continued to push forward when invited with Broom remaining positive right midfield and Atangana bright with his runs box to box. On 55 minutes, Cheltenham created a snappy move from deep going through several phases and Varney nearly rounded off the move blasting an effort from 16 yards which was deflected wide of the right post. On 57 minutes, Butler provided better ammunition from a cross further back up the pitch and pinpointed Amond who made a late run into the area but his header from 12 yards was saved low down by Flinders. County were keen to get on with the game and in the final 30 minutes they took more control of the game but Cheltenham remained dogged denying space final third. County persisted with putting in an early ball into the area with Pipe coming into the game right midfield and Butler left side. On 66 minutes, Amond was close dropping off a good County move near the face of the area and his shot was plucked out of the air by Flinders. County were forcing the pace and Flinders was booked on 70 minutes for time wasting during a goal kick. On 72 minutes, County made their final change with Matt being replaced by Harris. County upped their energy again in the final stage of the game changing their tact to play the ball lower and with tempo and this finally caused Cheltenham bigger problems forcing them deeper. On 73 minutes, Amond was caught late with a tackle from behind by Thomas who was booked. Cheltenham were forced back but remained a threat playing on the break and a bright move on 80 minutes saw Barnett coax a mistimed challenge by Demetriou. From the resultant free kick Varney whipped in a vicious shot to test Day who parried the effort to safety. County forced a series of corners on 83 minutes with Cheltenham struggling to clear their lines. On the third corner, Butler whipped a deeper cross which Franks directed well with a header into the six yard box and Boyle bowled over Amond. The referee then booked the defender for contesting the award of the penalty. Demetriou took the spot kick but his rash placement well wide of the right post was a big let off for the hosts. Cheltenham made a change on 88 minutes with Addai replacing Clements. County got their reward for persistence on 89 minutes which Amond did well to glance on a header from a direct ball into the area and Semenyo anticipated well blasting home from close range under Flinders. County kept plugging away in the four minutes of injury time with Semenyo having a shot on the turn inside the box saved in the left corner. County forced a couple of late corners with keeper Day pushing up and there was another half-hearted claim for a penalty with the ball striking the hand of Addai during a clearance. Cheltenham held on for important victory but County having to reflect on key moments that got away from them.

Day (6) –  tested on crosses but stood tall to make some good saves. Kicked well under pressure and distributed neatly but poor handling on shot that lead to second goal

Pipe (7) –  probably the best defender on the day, made some well timed tackles and did better second to link from midfield putting in some good crosses and force corners.

Butler (6) – was forced back by Broom and put under pressure on headers. Cleared well but only really offered influence final third with crosses cut back from deeper positions.

Demetriou (5) – put under pressure by Barnett and did his best work when he was decisive winning the headers. Let down by some poor distribution and disappointing penalty.

Franks (6) – did well in aerial duals but got wrong side of man on some challenges. Had a better second half and went close several times on set pieces.

Bakinson (6) – did his best in more deeper holding role and had more influence in second half when Crofts came on and he could face more direct at the Cheltenham defence.

Cooper (4) – determined but was wrong side on too many challenges and went backwards too much with his passes before being replaced by:

Crofts (6) – gave more assurance with the ball , read the game well and always in good positions directing his passes well.

Pring (4) – aside from some bursts left side, he was careless in possession and naďve on times playing more attacking role – replaced by:

O’Brien (6) – steadied ship at the back and won some well timed tackles with bravery. Headed well under pressure.

Semenyo (6) –  quiet first half but did better second half going left side and got facing forward. Despite not reading some of flicks by Matt and Amond, he got a deserved goal

Matt (5) – frustrating on times, off the ball didn’t show enough teeth, lost out on a lot of headers, spent too much of game playing with back to goal and received little quality to feed off

Amond (6) –  found space hard to find for most of first half and did better when he dropped off in midfield. Showed up more after break with enterprise in and around area was good.

 

 

SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths –
they were tenacious, did well collectively especially off the ball and pressed across the pitch before fading. Used flanks well and were bold providing crosses.

Weaknesses –  despite their height they always were vulnerable defending their box and panicked under pressure. Dropped off pace markedly second half

Opportunities –  both full backs pushed high especially first half and they gambled flooding players forward from deep but left holes.
Threats –
 Barnett was decent in the air, Broom crosses and enterprise on the flank, Varney shots from distance.

OFFICIALS
A Young (7) – kept game ticking over well and got key decisions spot on despite allowing some leniency on some of time wasting.


MAN OF THE MATCH
Ryan Broom – impressive performance from Newport born defender. Squashed threat from Butler and was dynamic getting forward having hand in both goals.  

IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

County have done well against the higher placed sides in League Two but performances against struggling sides are becoming a concern with the work rate first half not matching the hosts. County continued with 4-3-3 which had worked well in recent games but the midfield starting three were not strong enough first half and hid too often. County were forced to give up too much space and did not get to first or second ball enough with any real conviction. County had problems dealing with the flanks with Broom pushing Butler into his shell for large part of the game and when County did have the chance to counter they were simply too static or wasteful with possession. County changed tact second half and for the last half an hour asserted their game much better but in the end despite the missed penalty it was all left in the locker too late. Matt had a poor game today and Cheltenham blocked off the threats well. County need to remind themselves playing away from home they are going to need to work even harder playing three men up top and the off the ball work is more important. County have a quick chance to put things right now with the Northampton Town home game this Tuesday but will need to show more teeth and resolve if things go against them. They will need to track the craft of Williams in and around the area and industry of Foley and O’Toole will need to be matched in midfield.