Forest Green Rovers v Newport County

Saturday 6th October 2018  k.o 3:00pm

Sky Bet Football League Two

 

Report from Mark Vickery at The New Lawn

 

Forest Green Rovers 1 (Bennett own goal 18)

Newport County 1 (Amond 38)

 

Attendance: 3,081 (approx. 1000 Newport)

 

Form:

Newport County                    WWLWWLWWWD  

Forest Green Rovers             DDDWWDDWDW              

 

 

Ding dong battle finishes even

 

 

PRE-MATCH THOUGHTS
County need to adjust midfield with Cooper unable to play against his parent club. Key that close down back to front today and not allow any momentum for the hosts.

CONDITIONS
Cold, cloudy, damp with keen breeze. Pitch in decent condition and quick

SUMMING UP OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Spirited, determined and responded well after conceding, despite not sustaining any control

TURNING POINT
Demetriou penalty miss was not defining but did knock the sails out of County a bit.

THE MATCH
County made just the one change with loan signing Charlie Cooper unable to play against parent club but Robbie Willmott returned to the side after suspension. County started with purpose and a faster start than in the last two games set the precedent with Forest Green conceding some early fouls. On 5 minutes, Bennett anticipated the quicker in the middle only to be caught very late by ex-Cheltenham midfielder Winchester who was booked. County had the keen wind behind them encouraging them forward and created a couple smart exchanges through the middle. Semenyo and Matt showed good awareness caressing some through balls in behind but the ball ran on in the glossy surface allowing keeper Sanchez to claim at the feet. Rovers were keen to use the frame of ex-Exeter striker Reuben Reid to make the ball stick but County dealt well with aerial duals. Rovers set their stall out to play on the counter and County were given a warning on 10 minutes when Winchester cut inside on the left side from Forbes didn’t track the run and he curled a decent low shot from 25 yards which crashed against the right post and to safety. Rovers were boosted by the exchanges coming from deep and caught County napping on 18 minutes. A quick throw on the right flank by Brown saw him find Digby in space and he lofted a pass to the left flank to find the run of Grubb. He was allowed to much space on the left flank with Forbes stretched and his low opportunist cross into the six yard box was deflected into the net by County defender Scott Bennett. County responded well forcing play back in the right corner with Forbes and Willmott working well to together and Rovers had to defend a couple of decent crosses into the area with Rawson and Gunning vigilant clearing to safety. County issued another warning on 28 minutes when Matt did well to bring a direct ball down quickly and pick out the run of Semenyo right side. With left back Mills well out of position, Semenyo drove to the right byline and he attempted a low cross into the six yard box to return the ball to Matt but Rawson made an important intervention. County held the ball well in the final third and had a free kick in a decent position on 35 minutes when Bennett was bowled over by Brown. From 30 yards, Willmott chipped in a decent delivery which Demetriou met ahead of Rawson from 10 yards but it was glanced just over the bar. County kept the heat on working the right flank well when Forest Green left space and went close again on 36 minutes when a neat slick ground move deep in the Rovers area saw Amond pick a pass for Semenyo who struck a shot on the turn from 6 yards which was blocked by Shepherd. County persisted and it paid off on 38 minutes with a well worked goal with Rovers caught out after a move broke down inside the County half. Forbes did well to thread a quick pass for Wilmott who took his run down the right side of the box and a clever first time pass found Amond in space. As the ball sat up he struck a great effort into the left corner from 8 yards with the outside of his right foot flatfooting the keeper. County had Rovers rattled for a time closing the defenders down well with Rawson and Mills getting caught in possession. The hosts regained some control of the game on the stroke of half time from direct play with Reid doing his uppermost to retain possession and offer guile to bring in support from Grubb and Campbell. On 40 minutes, Rovers created a decent move down the middle and Brown struck an opportunist low effort from 25 yards which clipped the outside of the left post. Rovers were buoyed from their approach play with County looking indecisive for the first time in the match and Reid showed his capability again on 43 minutes spinning off a challenge from Demetriou and his volley on the turn from 25 yards looped onto the top of the bar. Reid went close again in first half injury time when he turned far too easily off a challenge a stuck a dipping volley over from 30 yards.

County started the second half in better shape with more decisive play in the Rovers half. County set their stall out to break up play and attack from deep more typical of an away side and were close on 48 minutes. Forest Green struggled to get a clearance safe from a free kick and Butler charged down the left flank before clipping a decent cross into the box which Bennett glanced just wide of the right post from 10 yards under pressure from Gunning. On 50 minutes, Semenyo did well to angle his run left side of the box with Bakinson playing a precise ball to stretch the Forest Green defence and his shot from an acute angle was held by Sanchez. The game went end to end for a time with Forest Green quick to get forward and they went close moments later when Shepherd darted down the right side and struck an opportunist effort from the right side of the box which was blocked well by Demetriou. Rovers were quicker to the loose ball thought and Grubb snapped up possession before blasting a decent effort from 20 yards which deflected wide of the right post. The game continues to ebb and flow and County had a great opportunity to punish Rovers on 52 minutes when an anxious header by Rawson was collected by Semenyo. He drove down the left flank and his low pass found Bakinson who struck a decent shot on the turn but Sanchez read it well low down. Rovers continued to offer most threat on the left flank through the industry of Mills and County conceded a couple of fouls but they dealt with the set pieces well. On 62 minutes, County swept forward with a swift counter down the middle with Bennett finding the run of Semenyo who had acres of space but could only trash his effort wide and high of the left post and bar. Forest Green made the first change moments later which was like for like with Morris replacing Campbell. County continued to test Rovers with some quick balls which saw some anxious clearances. On 65 minutes, County had a corner on the right side after the keeper flapped punching the ball away. From the resultant corner by Butler, Amond saw his shot blocked and the rebound was pounced upon by Matt who blasted a first time effort which Reid brushed off the line with his arm. The referee booked the forward and awarded a penalty which Demetriou took but his usual composure was missing blasting spot kick well over the bar. It was big let off for the hosts and buoyed them on to force County back again. Morris gave Rovers some impetus to attack their right side and snappy move on 68 minutes saw him outfox Butler and his snapshot from the right side of the box was diverted wide of the right post by Bennett. Rovers kept their momentum with some better control of the ball and zip to their game. Grubb was the main threat with his alertness and vision on the ball and he went close on 75 minutes with a couple of shots outside the box which were well blocked by Franks and Bennett. Rovers made a tactical change in the last 15 minutes putting Digby back into a three man defence allowing full backs Shepherd and Mills to push on. On 82 minutes, Rovers made another change with Worthington replacing Brown in central midfield. County adjusted to counter the threat with Pring coming on left midfield for Willmott and Bennett dropping back in central defence. County were forced deep on times in the latter stages of the game but they still had opportunities on the break. On 85 minutes, County created an excellent break right side with Forbes pushing deep inside the Rovers half and his cross to pinpoint Matt was crucially diverted by Rawson with Matt loitering. From the resultant corner by Butler, Rovers were again anxious in defending and Amond was close with a crisp volley from 8 yards which Sanchez read well in the left corner. Then on 87 minutes, another cross from right side by Forbes was latched on Pring at the back post after a late run into the box but his stretching header from 8 yards was tame. Rovers went on the offensive again late on forcing some corners but County were resilience defending set pieces.             County made a late final change in injury time with Matt replaced by Harris. In the five minutes of injury time, there was little threat from either side with both appearing to accept a point in what was a good advert for League Two.

Day (6) –  quiet game, handled well and alert to crosses inside six yard box but largely untroubled. Kicking was a bit wayward on times first half and distribution could be quicker.  

Forbes (7) –  put under pressure early on by Grubb and got caught out of position. settled down well and was positive when invited providing crosses which were under-hit on times

Butler (7) – played deep on times but generally defended well playing some immaculate passes to turn defence around second half. Set pieces were always a headache for Rovers

Demetriou (6) –  made some important blocks and put under pressure on times by Reid who span off challenges. Always a menace on set pieces but struck rare rash penalty today.

Franks (7) – strong in the aerial duals, saw the ball early and adjusted well to make some good clearances. Got some good interventions in but restricted on chances today.

Bennett (7) – broke up play well in middle, made a number of key interceptions and despite unlucky own goal never got down about it. Had the most threat today on set pieces

Bakinson (6) – playing deeper with Dolan out and got bogged down with ball at feet. Brighter and more influential when less time to think and best work done around edge of box.

Willmott (7) –  bright and inventive first half picking holes right side and at the heart of the goal. Forced deeper second half tracking back to stifle Mills but did good defensive job.

Matt (6) – worked hard closing down defenders, did well with back to goal and link play was good offering strength on ball. Restricted on chances, unlucky with shot handled on line.

Amond (8) –  determined and did a lot of important work closing down and showed quality with composure to score goal. Link play was intelligent and run himself into the ground.

Semenyo (7) –  worked hard, stretched the left flank well and was close setting a couple of decent chances with explosive runs. Restricted on chances and bit excited on his shots.

 

 

SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths – they were good in transition from defence to attack and full backs were influential setting up the pattern on their game. Defended aerial crosses well

Weaknesses –  gambled on counter flooding players forward but vulnerable when full backs were caught out position. Centre backs were nervous with some clearances.

Opportunities –  they were largely direct first half getting ball in Reid as quick as possible but adjusted to drop Digby deeper and push full backs even more up the pitch.
Threats –
 Reid was robust and eye for shots from tight angle. Grubb roamed and prepared to shoot. Mills penetrated left flank and Brown efficient play box to box.

OFFICIALS
Tim Robinson (9) – refreshing to see a referee keep up with the pace of the game and deal with decisions correctly. Played advantage well and kept game flowing well


MAN OF THE MATCH
Padraig Amond – worked tirelessly, technique and skill he offered meant Rovers could never switch off. Took his chance well and unlucky to add to it

IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

County knew they were going to have spells under pressure today but the key was not to allow an efficient Rovers outfit build up any sustained momentum. County did this well to a tee and had some very productive spells themselves which could and should have yielded a second goal. Rovers set their stall out to play on the counter first half but County marshalled the threat pretty well after the set back of conceding and responded well. Despite not having the control of the midfield as they would have liked, County kept focussed and closed down well from back to front today and were snappy with their moves final third. You feel that Bakinson will benefit more from playing further up the pitch but Willmott did a good job today showing his versatility to attack with enterprise and track back. County can improve on their crossing but they showed flexibility to go through the middle today and offer something else to give sides to think about. Next up is Stevenage at home and they really do owe them with several indifferent performances against them home and away. Ex County assistant manager Dino Maamria will have them fired up. It will key County marshal aerial threat and link play into target man Revell and stifle their supporting play with Newton and Kennedy giving them legs.