Newport County v Crewe Alexandra

Saturday 11th August 2018   k.o 3:00pm

Sky Bet Football League Two  

 

Report from Mark Vickery at Rodney Parade

 

Newport County 1 (Amond 33)

Crewe Alexandra 0

 

Attendance: 3,243

 

Form:

Newport County        L      

Crewe Alexandra      W

 

 

Great response by County

 

 

PRE-MATCH THOUGHTS
Crewe put six past Morecambe last week and will have confidence going forward. They do have some injuries in defence so key County exploit their weaknesses.

CONDITIONS
Heavy rain showers, mild with keen breeze. Pitch was pristine and glossy on top in the conditions.

SUMMING UP OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Enterprising first half, sharp with the ball and mind, defended well to protect lead.

TURNING POINT
Crewe missing their penalty was a key moment but not underlining

THE MATCH
As anticipated, County made a few changes after the Mansfield match with David Pipe replacing Tyler Forbes at right back and with Keanu Marsh-Brown injured Josh Sheehan came into an attacking midfield role. There was also surprise change up top with loan signing from Cardiff City Mark Harris replacing Jamille Matt to partner Padraig Amond. County had the benefit of the keen breeze first half and with the rain falling quite heavy at kick off the early stages were energetic with Crewe forced to defend deeply. County adopted a 3-5-2 formation an created their first chance on 5 minutes from a slick move left side. Butler did well to link and his deep cross was well read by Amond who saw his header pushed away by the keeper Richards and Sheehan was denied on the rebound right side of the six yard after a good interception by Nolan. From the resulting corner, Sheehan whipped in decent delivery from the right side which Crewe struggled to deal with and Bennett took hold of the ball but with his back to goal couldn’t get enough on his shot from 8 yards and the ball was cleared to safety. County were encouraged by their early approach play passing well to use the flanks and Crewe elected to play more directly with some hopeful balls in behind which County got safe. On 8 minutes, County had a free kick in a threatening position right side of the area and Dolan swung in decent effort but it fizzed just over the bar when he should really have tested the keeper. Crewe mounted a couple decent raids forward on the break and when County lost possession in midfield they were effective getting into the final third. On 13 minutes, Green snapped up possession and linked well with Jones who slipped a clever low pass for Bowery. He struck a decent effort from 20 yards which went wide of the left post with County keeper Day having it covered. County continued to look threatening from crosses especially on the left flank and Crewe were error prone defending the high ball. On 16 minutes, Butler did well to support the run of Harris on the left side of the area and pick up his neat pass. From a first time low cross into the area, Amond was well positioned and thrashed a low effort on the turn from 14 yards which the keeper held well low down. Crewe maintained their energy going forward and slick link play in the middle and Crofts found himself in the book for a mistimed challenge on Jones. From the resultant free kick, left back Pickering struck a decent effort from 30 yards which appeared to catch Day by surprise as it struck the outside of the right post. With Crewe offering more ambition to push on, County had opportunities on the break with Sheehan and Harris picking holes well in the final third. On 22 minutes, Crewe were given a warning when a direct move by County saw Amond do well to glance a header inside down the middle and Sheehan was quick to read seizing the ball and he hit a decent effort from 35 yards nearly catching the keeper out as it flashed just wide of the left post. County were buoyed on by their slick link play with Crewe forced into conceding several free kicks and Amond was close again when his instinctive header from 10 yards was saved. County continued to work their left side well and got the goal they deserved on 33 minutes. Butler did well to force Crewe back in the left corner and Demetriou did well with a supporting run and his superb cross into the area pinpointed Amond who powered his header from 8 yards into the left corner. Crewe made efforts to respond with some direct ball to test County down the heart of the pitch with Bennett forced into some interceptions but Franks and Demetriou worked hard in tandem to support and clear the danger. Crewe had a better spell as half time approached with Bowery offering an outlet to hold the ball and link with Kirk left wing but the crosses were not hurting a vigilant County defence. County had a couple of decent situations again from crosses on the left side with Harris and Amond alive to some well worked moves. Kirk was then booked for Crewe in first half injury time for a clumsy low challenge on Crofts.

County continued where they left off after half time forcing Crewe to defend deep as they worked some patient low moves in and around the area. On 47 minutes, County had a free kick in a prominent position right side of the area and Dolan provided a testing ball which Crewe cleared to the edge of the area. Amond and he blasted a decent effort which deflected off the back off Nolan for a corner. Dolan to the corner from the right side which was allowed to drop deep and Franks anticipated well only to see his stooping header from 8 yards deflected wide of the left post by Nolan. Sheehan took the resulting corner from left side which was teasing and Crewe were fortunate allowing Bennett space and his late header from 8 yards fizzed narrowly wide of the right post. County were effervescent and another decisive move on 50 minutes this time down the middle saw Sheehan strike a rasping effort from 30 yards which Richards did well to tip over the bar. Crewe struggled again to deal with the set piece and Butler was close with snapping up the ball from 25 yards but his well struck effort flashed wide of the right post. Crewe made an early change on 55 minutes with Kirk being replaced by Ainley and he was keen to make his mark striking a decent effort on 57 minutes but Franks got an important interception in to divert to safety. County made a change on 62 minutes with Harris replaced by Semenyo up front and County appeared to lose some of the momentum they had in the final third. Crewe took more of grip of the ball in final half an hour with Green and Jones combining well. On 66 minutes, Crewe were awarded a somewhat fortuitous penalty when they worked a low move on the right side with Hunt finding Bowery with a low pass. He turned inside to beat off a challenge by and slip a pass for Green who went shoulder to shoulder with Demetriou on the edge of the area and the referee interpreted this as obstruction. Green took the penalty and his weak low effort was well anticipated by Day with a save in the right corner. Crewe kept their game slick but were somewhat light on their feet on times with Green going down under a fair looking challenge by Sheehan on 68 minutes. From a dangerous position, the free kick by Hunt was overplayed a Day collected the high ball comfortably. County made a defensive change on 70 minutes with Sheehan replaced by Cooper. The final stages were scrappy on times with several fouls interrupting the flow of the game but despite being forced back County kept Crewe at arms-length dealing with the aerial duals well and runs of Nicholls right side. County worked a couple of decent moves left side with Semenyo and Butler combining well but County were unable to find quality with the crosses. Crewe made another late change on 90 minutes with ex-Carlisle veteran centre back replacing Hunt and he went up front when invited for set pieces. Crewe had a couple of decent moves on the break in the four minutes of injury time when County lost possession cheaply. In the second minute of injury time, Ainley again showed his eye for a shot cutting inside from a challenge by Pipe and his rising effort from 25 yards was well over the bar. County made a late change to run down the clock with Amond replaced by Matt but County held on strongly for a deserved victory.

 

Day (7) –  kicked well in the conditions keeping ball on the pitch and made some good collections from crosses. Made key save on penalty and kept focussed throughout.

Pipe (7) – Got forward well first half and loitered back post a few times. Crosses can be improved on but made himself difficult to beat tracking danger well late on to restrict crosses.

Butler (7) – Another active game, provided several decent crosses from well timed runs and accurate with his passes. Forced back later in the match but got tight when it mattered.

Demetriou (8) –  dominated in the air and swept up danger when balls put in behind. Threat on set pieces especially when ball went deep and set up goal with precise cross.

Bennett (7) – slotted in well to central defence timing tackles well, strong in the air and cleared danger well despite a couple of anxious moments from long balls down the middle.  

Franks (8) – comfortable in the aerial duals dealing well with the low ball and made some good interceptions. Cleared effectively and went close on couple of set pieces.

Crofts (7) – passed well throughout and despite early booking protected defence and read game well especially snuffing out counter attacks before they got momentum.  

Dolan (7) – busy game, went out for the ball more today and kept his passing ticking over. Provided fair quota of inviting crosses from set pieces and linked well

Sheehan (7) –  picked holes demanding more of the ball today and put in several decent efforts from distance. Excellent set pieces which caused anxiety in Crewe defence.

Harris (7) –  not a bad debut, worked hard and was quick thinking with his use of the ball and kept defenders worked. His pace and trickery was key especially in the first half.

Amond (8) –   made several intelligent runs and got in decent positions to bring others in. His contribution outside the box was equally important and took his chance very well.

 

 

SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths –
they were most effective on the break and offered crisp passing game across the middle of the pitch

Weaknesses – struggled to deal with crosses especially back post and gave away several cheap free kicks in the first half. Were lightweight up front and wasted possession.

Opportunities – they were contained down the flanks and forced to play inside and they offered more flexibility in the second half.
Threats –
Pickering did well left side, Bowery was good with his link play. Kirk left side crosses and Nicholls right side was energetic.

OFFICIALS
B Huxtable (7) – got grasp of the game and was generally consistent with his approach. Got a bit sucked into give free kicks when players went down cheaply


MAN OF THE MATCH
Mickey Demetriou – switched on throughout, offered no charity, made Bowery look very ordinary winning aerial duals and was strong in the challenge.  

IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

County have a motto on their season tickets to Unite, Believe and be Resilient. It was there in abundance today with a real team display which was not spectacular, but they were the more effective enterprising outfit first half and should have been further ahead at half time. The second half showed a different side to their game where they had to squash the threat Crewe had on the ball with their slick passing and approach play. The defensive performance was much sharper today but they were also bright in the final third with Sheehan and Harris giving them options in and around the box. County put in several decent crosses but it was tempo and persistence that Crewe found hard to tame. In the conditions, it was much deserved first win and gives County a solid platform to build from. There were few concerns today and the only chinks of light Crewe found were from long balls in behind pinpointing Bennett who in truth made few lapses. County can expect a more physical encounter. They will also need to wary of that threat from direct play on Tuesday when they visit Cambridge United in the League Cup with Corr and Ibehre robust up top and Maris and Azeez willing in support but Cambridge do leave gaps on behind.