Newport County v Crawley Town

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

Sky Bet Football League Two  

 

Report from Mark Vickery at Rodney Parade

 

Newport County 0

Crawley Town 0

 

Attendance: 3,166

 

Form:

Newport County    WWLWdLLWLL

Crawley Town        LDLLLWLLLL

 

 

County frustrated by stubborn Crawley

 

 

PRE-MATCH THOUGHTS
Both sides are struggling for form having conceded several goals. County have made some welcome changes to freshen their line-up.

CONDITIONS
Mild, partly cloudy dry and calm. Pitch in good condition but a little uneven on top.

SUMMING UP OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Competitive, didn’t a glut of chances but should have taken one of them.

TURNING POINT
None to note but once Dolan and Crofts went off County had less control of the game.

THE MATCH
County made three changes from Boxing Day with Andrew Crofts replacing the injured Josh Labadie and Tyreeq Bakinson was replaced by Robbie Willmott in central midfield. There was another change with Tyler Forbes replacing David Pipe who was on the bench. The early stages were competitive offering little room in midfield which set a precedent for the rest of the game with both sides looking to shore up their defence after recent defeats. There were several infringements interrupting the flow of the game in the centre of midfield with Payne the main instigator for Crawley and County   equally giving away free kicks at will. Crawley playing three central defenders set their stall out to sit in and probe with some telegraphed balls in behind at every opportunity turning the County defence. County were the more thoughtful outfit trying to pinpoint balls down either side of the area with Crawley right wing back Sesay working hard to restrict Butler penetrating. Crawley were happy to play on the counter with Bulman and Payne snapping up possession working balls into the corner and Crawley were rewarded a couple of corners right side. On 15 minutes, Doherty curled in a decent corner on the right side which fell to the smallest player unmarked but Grego-Cox directed a weak header from 10 yards straight at County keeper Day. County had a couple of decent situations from some longer balls to turn the Crawley defence around. On 17 minutes, County broke well and Demetriou directed a decent pass for Amond who won the race ahead of Connolly on the left side of the area but he lofted his volley just over the right corner of post and bar. County were more penetrative on the right side with Forbes and Willmott busy in their approach play and more purposeful in finding crosses. On 20 minutes, Forbes drove near the right byline with a strong run beating Doherty and his low cross into the six yard box was intercepted by McNerney with Matt and Amond in decent positions. County kept probing away stepping up their tempo and had a bit of purple patch midway through the half which should have yielded a goal. On 26 minutes, an energetic move right side saw Forbes set up Willmott to cross right side of the area and his deft cross was taken off the head of Matt by an important intervention by Francomb. From the resulting corner, Willmott delivered a good cross into the area which Franks anticipated well with a run from deep but his header from 8 yards fizzed wide of the right post. Crawley continued to persist with hopeful balls in behind to test County and press play further up the pitch and there is was little space to operate in. On 30 minutes, Crawley flirted with goal when another corner right side was met by Connolly but his header through the crowd from 10 yards was claimed with ease by Day. County were most effective when they raised the tempo to their moves keeping them low and sharp. On 35 minutes, County looked certain to score when a more decisive move right side saw Crofts find Willmott and he cut back an excellent first time cross into the box which dropped deep and Amond read it well but was denied when his header from 10 yards was saved in the left corner by Morris. The game remained combative in the middle with Bulman and Payne snapping hard to deny Dolan and Crofts space but when County were smart in moving the ball on they caused concern. County had a great chance to forge ahead on 40 minutes when Matt went on solo run through the middle making the most of deflection and with the Crawley defence static, he was able to carry his run into the area. From an acute he had the opportunity to shoot but generously cut a pass back to Amond who blasted over from 8 yards when he should have scored. The miss appeared to galvanise Crawley who came out of their shell a little on the stroke of half time with Grego-Cox and Poleon making some strong runs in the final third. County marshalled the threat well and another cross in injury time from Butler left side was met well by Amond but his header from 8 yards went straight at the keeper and was comfortable.

The early stages of the second half were increasingly scrappy with Crawley continuing to work to deny space in the middle and probe for hopeful balls in behind. On 52 minutes, Crofts was replaced after taking a slight knock in a tackle with Bulman and O’Brien came on slotting into central defence. County adjusted putting Bennett into central midfield and they had a glimmer of a chance on 55 minutes when Forbes went on a purposeful run down the right side before cutting into the middle but his shot from 25 yards went well over the bar. County made another change soon after with Dolan unable to recover from a knock after a low tackle with Bulman and he was replaced by Bakinson. The changes unsettled County with them having less grip of the ball in the middle but they continued to work the flanks well. Forbes continued to cause problems down the right side with some direct runs and he was crudely checked by Doherty on 62 minutes on the right side of the area. Willmott dinked over an excellent cross into the box which Franks did well to glance ahead of McNerney but his header dropped narrowly wide of the left post. The game degenerated midway through the half with Crawley sitting back deeper to defend with two banks of four and clear direct at every opportunity. County struggled for momentum with Matt and Amond feeding off bits and pieces but there was another decent chance on 75 minutes. From a wide position on the right side, Willmott dinked a clever cross with the outside of his foot which flashed to the back post and Amond couldn’t quite get enough strength on his shot and it was diverted. He retrieved the ball and cut back a low cross into the six yard box which Bakinson had to turn back to control but he couldn’t get his shot in quick enough and it was cleared. Crawley made a like for like change on 77 minutes with Gambin replacing Grego-Cox to freshen up their game. County responded replacing Forbes with Harris but neither side were able to assert any grip on the game in the final stages. Crawley were happy to sit in and play on the counter and with County committed men forward they enjoyed a bit more space but their final ball or cross was atrocious. The game remained littered with free kick and Harris was booked on 88 minutes for his first real challenge whilst others had surpassed their count for persistent fouling. Despite five minutes of injury time, and the lions share of possession, County couldn’t lay a glove on the Crawley goal and they were forced to accept a point.          

Day (6) –  had very little to do in the truth, put under pressure with some kicks which dealt with, handling was good but his distribution was slow on times.

Forbes (7) –  made himself hard to beat and contributed final third with some well-timed runs blended with pace. Needs to work on crosses with some deliveries too short.

Butler (6) – made efforts to get forward but kept quiet by Sesay who matched his pace. Did well defending though and stifled forays Crawley made especially late on.

Demetriou (7) – must have had neck ache by the number of times he had to backtrack and clear. Averted danger well with some excellent tackles and some good long throws.

Bennett (6) – did a reasonable job in defence stifling runners and passing effectively. Struggled a bit in the middle to influence game and sat deeper and deeper second half.

Franks (7) – kept his concentration well, dominating in the air and was robust breaking play up early to clear. Had some of the best chances today and deserved a goal.

Willmott (6) – did a job in middle but better suited to 442. got bogged down on times in tackles and aerial duals but best work done with crosses which should have yielded a goal.

Crofts (6) – anchored play well across middle although sharpness was lacking after just coming back into side getting caught in possession on times. Was replaced early after knock

Dolan (5) –  out of sorts, unable to find space and freedom, second best in too many challenges and squandered possession before early replacement

Matt (6) – got pushed off ball too easily and ball retention meant ball was always going back. When he made ball stick and was dynamic he threatened and needs to be more greedy.

Amond (6) – not sure how he didn’t score, denied on a few headers and went close several times back post. Worked hard to keep ball but visibly faded in latter stages of the game.

 

 

SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths –
the pressed play well and denied space in midfield with some determined challenges and their work ethic got them a point

Weaknesses –  centre backs laboured when turned and erratic clearing when hurried. Happy to help the ball in behind direct predicable passes that Sunday league sides could read.

Opportunities –  they set their stall out to sit and look for sucker punch on the break. Never really changed tact but did push full backs more forward late on.
Threats –
 Poleon and Grego-Cox had pace, Sesay was strong and penetrative right side. Connolly headers from set pieces.

OFFICIALS
A Coggins (6) – slowed game down needlessly and was still talking to players in injury time. Missed a lot of the cynical antics allowing leniency on persistent fouling


MAN OF THE MATCH
Fraser Franks – defended well making some important interventions when County did get exposed. Went close several times and next goal must be just around the corner…

IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

County had the better of the game overall and despite not firing on all cylinders they should have won this match with one of their chances but for once Amond failed inside the six yard box. County needed other players to step up today but the quality and ruthlessness inside the box was lacking on both finishing and crosses. Crawley played a three man defence to mirror County and they were happy to sit in, suffocate the midfield and when they pressed high, County needed to measure balls in behind to turn their defence but they often opted for the wrong decision, got turned back and often put themselves under unnecessary pressure. County struggled for cohesion and couldn’t find the extra gear and if anything the game was a little one paced suiting Crawley who were only to happy to slow down the game and have a breather at every opportunity. County now visit Stevenage before the Leicester FA Cup match and will be keen get to the New Year off to good start. County need to watch the video of the home match against Stevenage when they matched their endeavour and had a vice grip of the ball stretching their opponents all over the pitch. County will need to stem the flow into target man Revell and track runners with the counter attacking game key how Stevenage play.