Newport County v Exeter City
2019 k.o 3:00pm
Sky Bet Football League Two
Report from Mark Vickery at Rodney Parade
Newport County 1 (Matt 71)
Exeter City 0
Newport County dLLWLLdLWL
Exeter City LLLLWWWLWd
Long overdue win
County have boosted their defence with loan signing Regan Poole from Manchester United. Exeter are expecting a physical encounter but key County get ball down and play today
Mild, cloudy with light drizzle but little breeze. Pitch looked a little weathered in parts and quite bobbly
OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Unspectacular functional more balanced performance creating the best chances
Opening goal was always going to be pivotal today.
County were forced into a couple of changes with both defenders Fraser Franks and Tyler Forbes injured but they had comfort of loaning signing Regan Poole filling in at right back and Mark O’Brien returned to the side. County also made a change in centre midfield with Tyreeq Bakinson replacing Matt Dolan who was on the bench. County started with operating with Willmott and Butler wing backs high up the pitch with Amond tucking into midfield. Exeter had some of better early possession with new signing Kane Wilson busy right midfield with some robust play. County were penetrative right side with Wilmott testing Exeter left back Woodman with his trickery and pace. On 5 minutes, County won a corner right side which Willmott delivered Demetriou got up to well under pressure from O’Shea but his header from 8 yards was claimed by keeper Pym. Wilmott kept probing away overlapping efficiently to break well from deep and he cut back an earlier cross on 6 minutes which flashed deep which Amond read but his header from acute angle was wide. Exeter made efforts to pick up their game but County were close to hitting with a sucker punch on 8 minutes when another quick break right side saw Bennett supply Wilmott in space right side. He darted to the right side of the area before clipping back an excellent cross to find Matt who was well placed but his header from 10 yards was saved by Pym in the left corner. It was a let off for Exeter and gave them some confidence to push on using Forte up front as a target in support with Bowman. County stifled the threat well with O’Brien and Demetriou dealing well with the aerial duals and Poole razor sharp with passing and cleaning up in behind. County continued to probe away manufacturing space for crosses into the area which created uncertainty. On 20 minutes, Semenyo blasted a shot well over and wide of the mark from right byline after cutting inside from the right byline. Exeter were awarded a free kick right flank after an untidy challenge by Bennett on Collins. Law took the free kick pinpointing O’Shea but his looping header from 12 yards was saved well by Day in the top right corner. Exeter had a better spell midway through the half with some energy in the final third but County continued to look good on the counter but were often left down by the final pass or poor retention allowing Exeter centre back O’Shea and Moxey to snap the ball. County were most productive when they stretched play and were not afraid to go back and build from the back. On 35 minutes, County created a good patient move going through several players shifting the play from left to right and then back into the centre only for Bakinson to be bowled over with his back to goal. The resulting free kick came to nothing with Exeter clearing strongly to the edge of the area but County had nobody to pounce on the loose ball. Exeter created a chance out of nothing on 40 minutes when Forte glanced a direct ball towards Wilson and he cut back a decent pass to the left side of the area for the overlapping run of Law. He took the opportunity to shoot first time but his crisp from 20 yards was well intercepted by Poole. County created their best threat when they limit touches on the ball and a neat move on 43 minutes nearly paid dividends. Bennett slipped a clever lower pass to Amond on the edge of the area and chested a smart ball into Semenyo who struck a powerful half volley just wide of the left post and bar.
County started the second half with purpose and with the crowd still returning from a swift beverage they were close to forging ahead. Butler swept forward on the left side beating Sweeney with strong run and his deft menacing cross dropped deep allowing Wilmott a half chance but the ball sat up uncomfortably and his volley from 8 yards went well over the bar. Exeter were more decisive coming forward with some bold runs and forceful robust play to make things happen. On 50 minutes, Forte was uncompromising in the challenge down the middle and Bowman made the most of the move snapping up possession but his speculative effort from 25 yards struck the top of the bar. Forte continued to get some joy with his strength to turn off the challenge and an ambitious effort from distance on 57 minutes was well saved low down by Day. County were forced back for a time with Exeter raising the bar but a good break by County moments later saw them threaten. Willmott again at the heart of the move and his clever cross just back from the six yard set up Bakinson who struck a decent first time from 10 yard forcing Pym into a neat save to parry the ball around the left post. County continued to look most likely to break the deadlock from set pieces and a corner on 62 minutes by Willmott was glanced just wide of the left post by Bakinson under pressure from O’Shea. Exeter made change on 66 minutes to freshen their approach up front with Forte replaced by Williams. County had another corner right side on 70 minutes which Willmott delivered pinpointing Matt at the front post who couldn’t get a connection but as the ball sat up Semenyo directed a clever header from 10 yards forcing Pym to tip the effort over the bar. On 71 minutes, County were awarded a free kick after an untidy challenge on Butler left side by Wilson tracking back. Willmott took the free kick and it was glanced on well by O’Brien to the back post but Matt was there to finish with his trademark finish stretching out to poke home past Pym. Exeter made an immediate change with Holmes replacing Wilson but Holmes went left flank but County ramped up the pressure on Exeter adding to their corner count right side. On 78 minutes, Willmott swept in a decent delivery from a corner from side which Amond read with a late run but his header under pressure from 8 yards was inches wide of the right post. County were buoyed on by their good approach play and another sweeping move on 82 minutes right side saw Matt do well to hold up the ball and find Bakinson. He threaded a good pass to Willmott who picked out the late run of Amond who was unlucky to see his header from 12 yards go just wide of the left post. Exeter made another change on 86 minutes replacing left back Woodman with Abrahams who went up front to give some energy. Exeter forced play a little further up the pitch in final stages with County happy to play direct with Day kicking with depth down the pitch. County held out comfortably to see out a much needed three points and no repeat of the late goal conceded this season.
Day (7) – not overworked but kept concentration well and kicked well under pressure. Did well second half especially clearing out to the flanks pinpointing with accuracy.
Poole (7) – good debut, was alert to seize the ball and well positioned to clear which he did well under pressure. Marked well and made a couple of important blocks to avert danger.
Butler (7) – much more assertive in wing back role and provided fair quota of crosses. Made some brave aerial challenges and when forced to turn back to clear got the ball safe
O’Brien (7) – did not have his own way in aerial duals but building his match fitness. Looked sharper today and was always a problem for Exeter on set pieces.
Demetriou (7) – dominated in the air, broke up Exeter threat in and around the box and slipped some neat passes in behind. Close on a few headers on set pieces that went deep
Bennett (7) – did a good job in front protecting defence, made himself available, competed well in the air and was bright getting forward when he could keeping passing ticking over.
Willmott (8) – gave Woodman problems throughout and supplied several excellent crosses from his solo runs and set pieces. Worked hard and benefited from quicker ball today.
Bakinson (6) – played deeper and probably less comfortable but did an important job, to link play and when he relaxed to get ball and play he was effective. Unlucky not to score.
Semenyo (6) – quiet game today, was well marked and found space hard to find. Forced a couple of shots from difficult positions but did his best work when he gave an outlet.
Matt (7) – struggled to get much change from centre backs but when he got across man was effective but looked a little leggy second half but took the goal very well seeing ball late
Amond (6) – dropped off deeper on times to set up linking play and some clever runs back post were not found. Worked hard and did some good work with back to goal.
SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths – saw few of them today, they did show some capability with their short passing game and competed well physically.
Weaknesses – passing was untidy, both full backs were laboured and County got in behind easily. They struggled for quality, lacked a cutting edge final third and were one paced
they never really changed their tact, put three up front late on and Holmes did
make some headway left side late on
Threats – Forte and O’Shea had aerial prowess and Bowman shots from distance. Wilson on the ball effective with strength to bring other players in.
C Breakspear (7) – quiet game, got key decisions right, was lenient allowing a lot of the blocking and off the ball antics and no yellow cards which was a mystery.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Robbie Willmott – busy game, never let up in attacking right side and always had an eye for an opening. Put in several accurate crosses not allowing Exeter to settle.
IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
It was not a majestic performance by any means but an important win that could be pivotal in shaping the season. Despite some injuries, County were more balanced and composed today and carved out the best chances and dominated territorially. They were the side that wanted to get on with the game and when they stepped up a gear mistakes crept into the Exeter game. In the end this was enough with Exeter lacking a cutting edge and their threat from deep was well tamed by the County defence who worked well in tandem. Without a doubt, County can be more assertive and influential through the middle of the park and it was good to see them prepared to stretch and work Exeter around the pitch. Exeter had a short erratic spell after half time but were unable to sustain cohesion to threaten. You feel when County keep the ball on the pitch and keep their game ticking over they are difficult to stop when they build momentum but not all games are going to be comfortable especially when sides press. County now turn attention back to the FA Cup and a long trip to Middlesbrough who have put a better run together in December. They have generally played 4-5-1 using ex-Hartlepool striker Jordan Hughill as an outlet and his aerial prowess is key to the way they link their game. County definitely need to stifle that as Hughill will roam and they must also pick up energy in behind offered by Assombalonga and Wing. Middlesbrough do have an ageing squad so it would not be surprising to see them give rest a few players but it is game you feel County need to stay in regardless.