v Newport County
18th August 2018 k.o 3:00pm
Bet Football League Two
Report from Mark Vickery at St James Park
Exeter City 1 (Stockley 21)
Newport County 1 (Harris 81)
Newport County LWW
Exeter City WWW
Harris strikes to salvage a point
Exeter have won three out of three so County will need to be on guard with their defending a more direct Exeter unit than previous seasons
Cloudy, bright spells muggy with little breeze. Pitch was in excellent condition.
OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Had a lot of possession, lacked cutting edge but showed flexibility late on to get a draw.
Exeter had a chance to make it two nil but the late substitutions gave County more impetus.
County made a couple of changes after their 4-1 league cup victory at Cambridge mid-week with keeper Joe Day back in place of deputy Nick Townsend. David Pipe also returned at right back replacing Tyler Forbes. On loan signing from Bristol City Tyreeq Bakinson continued in midfield in place of captain Andrew Crofts who was nursing a knock and Mickey Demetriou took the armband. Jamille Matt maintained his partnership up front with Padraig Amond who was looking to add to his tally of three goals. The early stages saw both sides probing away which saw a precedence set with County the more patient passing outfit and Exeter arrowing balls in behind for Stockley and Forte. County were the first to threaten with a decent move passing down the right side and Sheehan slipped a pass into the feet of Matt on the right corner of the area. Despite being closely marked he adjusted well to hit a firm effort from his feet which forced Pym into a save around the right post. From the resulting corner by Dolan, Exeter struggled to deal with the ball inside the six yard box and Matt saw his shot on the turn cleared off the line by Moxey. Exeter persisted with the direct approach working the left side well with Stockley proficient in the air and Forte picking up bits and pieces well. County had to deal with a couple searching first times crosses from the left side with Holmes busy with the ball at his feet but Day kept his focus holding the ball low down. Exeter switched their attention to ping balls down the middle to test County with Bennett under some aerial pressure and Forte continued to offer nuisance reading balls well in behind. County maintained their focus clearing under pressure well and gained some ascendency from some good moves on the left flank involving Butler. On 17 minutes, County had a good situation from a corner on the left side which Sheehan took and the out-swinging delivery was read well by Demetriou who stole in from 12 yards unmarked but his header was well over when he should have worked the keeper. Exeter were happy to persist with their direct approach and went close moments later when Brown snapped up possession and his ball through the middle was glanced on well by Stockley. Forte was well positioned to seize the flick and return a pass but Stockley fired well over from 25 yards. Exeter gained some momentum from their decisive play forward and were awarded a somewhat dubious free kick on 21 minutes when Bakinson challenged well in air to deny Stockley on the left flank. Taylor took the free kick whipping a low delivery which County switched off on allowing Stockley to use the pace of the cross glancing a header into the right corner from 12 yards. County continued to enjoy possession with Pipe seeing more of the ball right side and providing some crosses outside the box but Exeter remained resolute defending the aerial ball inside the box. On 40 minutes, County had appeals for penalty turned down when Butler penetrated well down the left side of the area after a good counter attack. The cross had venom on it and Amond appeared to be bowled over by Martin after a late run into box but the referee was having none of it. County had received little protection from the referee and Demetriou received attention on 43 minutes after another late challenge to the head defending a corner. After several minutes receiving attention and several other stoppages it was baffling that there was only 2 minutes injury time at the end of the half but there was no further threat with both sides overplaying crosses in decent positions.
County were forced into a change at half time with Pipe not recovering from a knock and he was replaced by Marsh-Brown who went right side into an attacking role. County kept their patience to work Exeter around the pitch but the hosts were difficult to prise open denying space well which forced County to play back to goals. On 50 minutes, Exeter worked another decent situation when Holmes a bright move saw Holmes jink inside from left flank and set up Tilson with snapshot which was rising well over the bar. Marsh-Brown provided a good outlet on the right side and did well when he worked the byline but Exeter remained compact keeping the threat outside the box. County had a couple of good situations from shots from distance but both Marsh-Brown and Dolan failed to work the keeper. It was no surprise when County made another substitution on 60 minutes with Matt replaced by Semenyo. Exeter were keen to press and snap up play and a decent move on 62 minutes saw Sweeney prise the ball off Butler and direct a ball in behind on the right side for Boateng to latch onto. His first time cross into the area was anticipated well by Holmes who saw his low header from 10 yards was well held by Day into the left corner. Exeter made their first change on 67 minutes when Abrahams replaced Forte up front. County remained patient and intricate in the approach play picking holes well with Bakinson and Sheehan working some decent low passes. On 70 minutes, Sheehan had a decent situation going the middle of the pitch but his rash tired effort was well wide and high from 25 yards. County made their final change on 73 minutes with Mark Harris replacing Josh Sheehan. County adjusted to play a 3-4-3 formation with Marsh Brown playing more in middle and Harris right side. Exeter responded with another change soon after replacing Boateng with Law who went left side and Holmes reverting to the right wing. Abrahams was then booked for kicking the ball away on 75 minutes when Exeter were caught offside. County offered more threat in the latter stages of the game with Marsh-Brown getting to the right byline twice to provide some decent crosses to the front post and another which flashed through eluding the late runs from Semenyo and Amond. On 77 minutes, Abrahams was again causing problems with a direct run on the right side to get in behind and his deft cross pinpointed Stockley but his header from 10 yards was pushed away well by Day with an instinctive save. Law was quick to seize upon the loose clearance left side of the area and he cut inside only to see his curling effort strike the top of the bar. Exeter were keen to finish the game off but they were caught out on 81 minutes from a slick break by County on the left side. Bakinson did well to start the move and his slick pass down the middle found the run of Marsh-Brown who found Harris in space on the right side of the area. With Exeter stretched he went past Moxey and breached the Exeter defence with Brown losing his tackle and drilled a low shot home confidently from 10 yards. Exeter made another change on 83 minutes with Holmes replaced by Martin and they made efforts to step up a gear again in the final stages with Law a threat on the left flank. On 85 minutes, Law was again allowed to cut inside from the left side with too much ease and his low shot from 20 yards crept wide of the right post. There was a flurry on booking in the four minutes of injury time with another robust Exeter challenge this time by Taylor on Franks got a booking. In the melee that followed Bennett was booked for shoving with lack of protection from the referee biting. Exeter pressed but County held firm and Harris was booked late on for disrupting a free kick from Exeter but County held on for a share of the spoils.
Day (8) – put under pressure with some kicks but was steady and handled well from low crosses. Made a couple of key saves in the second half to keep County in the game.
Pipe (6) – was invited to come forward on times and provided several crosses from deep positions. Forced deep by Boateng and Holmes and took a knock tackling back replaced by:
Marsh-Brown – saw plenty of ball, carried threat with quick feet but lax with some passes. More comfortable when he went more central to unsettle defenders and set up goal well.
Butler (6) – worked hard throughout, had some bright spells first half and provided the most threat from crosses. Forced back on times second half and got caught out of positions.
Demetriou (7) – did well in the air winning the majority of his duals and cleared effectively. Took a couple knocks from his bravery and most threat on set pieces.
Bennett (6) – put under pressure by Stockley on the aerial duals and got little protection. Stood up to the challenge and always more comfortable when he was facing forward.
Franks (8) – dealt well with direct play and despite not getting his own way in every tackle intelligent reading the game. Adjusted well after Pipe went off protecting the right side
Bakinson (7) – wanted to be on the ball and took responsibility passing well and made some decisive piecing runs. Forced deeper on times to defend aerial duals
Dolan (6) – competed well in the air and on the floor moving it well when he won it. Got some shots in from distance but restricted on number of set pieces today
Sheehan (6) – frustrating game, picked holes in and around the area but unable to get any shots in to trouble the keeper despite finding some decent positions.
Matt (6) – strong headers first half which were not picked upon and did better when he had less time. Space limited and forced to play too much with back to goal and possession lost
Amond (7) – worked tirelessly despite little to feed off and felt he needed a quicker more decisive ball or crosses. Came alive in latter stages in the three up top.
SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths – defensively composed and central defenders strong to press and good in the air. Moved ball forward efficiently and offered decent moves final third.
Weaknesses – both full backs were unsettled by pace and they offered little control in middle of the pitch. Happy to help the ball directly in behind on times
they went down the middle with opportunist direct play but offered more width
after half time with Holmes switching flanks with Boateng.
Threats – Stockley was robust and strong in the air, Forte lively in behind, Holmes and Abrahams both offered craft and guile on ball and decent crosses.
C Sarginson (6) – Very lenient approach encouraging a lot of the off the ball antics and disrupting. Missed several challenges and game threatened to boil over on times.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Fraser Franks – showed his adaptability today to cover the void when Pipe went off. Won his fair quota of aerial duals and cleared effectively.
IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
County were in quite a large hole today and despite not firing on all cylinders they showed the flexibility to change their tactics late on and give Exeter something to think about. When County equalised Exeter were pushing for a second goal with attacking substitutions made by the hosts so credit must be given to County for being bold and more dynamic late on. Despite enjoying a lot of possession, County got a little bogged down in aerial duals and when they had chances to come forward they were a little sluggish in their approach play and their crosses lacked quality to trouble the streetwise Exeter defence. Bennett was put under some pressure from telegraphed balls down the middle and County perhaps need to do more to press Exeter defenders who often enjoyed time to help balls in behind. Despite not having captain Crofts influence in the middle, County adapted well in the middle and were the more patient thoughtful outfit. Next up is Notts County on Tuesday at Rodney Parade. They have only one point attained so far so County need to be wary of their backlash after being embarrassed by Yeovil at home. Notts have made changes to their team this season to play a low passing game but the likelihood is that they will revert to a more direct approach to examine County.