Newport County v Forest Green Rovers

Wednesday 25th December 2018   k.o 3:00pm

Sky Bet Football League Two


Report from Mark Vickery at Rodney Parade


Newport County 1 (Amond 45+2 pen

Forest Green Rovers (Williams 3, 52, 57, Campbell 43)


Attendance: 4,203



Newport County                    WWWLWdLLWL

Forest Green Rovers             WLLdLLWLWW  



Sloppy County gift wrap points for Rovers



Forest Green have recovered after poor run of form in November. County need to tighten up at the back and start getting the basics right again

Mild, cloudy dry and calm. Pitch in good condition but played quick on top.

Error ridden defending, lacked composure to find a pass and never recovered after sending off.

Amond chance to equalise on stroke of half time was key but Butler sending off killed off any fightback.

County made a couple of changes from the Lincoln game Saturday with Micky Demetriou returning in place of Mark O’Brien despite having only recently recovered from fractured cheekbone. There was another change in midfield with Joss Labadie making his first full start of the season in place of Antoine Semenyo who had to be content with a place on the bench and Tyreeq Bakinson replaced Robbie Willmott in midfield who was named substitute. County made another poor start allowing Forest Green to dictate the early stages with some bright exchanges and they got the ball much quicker. On 3 minutes, Brown danced forward with the ball at his feet and County needed to track the run into a less dangerous area but Dolan committed a clumsy foul to conceded a free kick. Ex-Welsh international George Williams took the delivery and showed his pedigree curling a free kick into the left corner from 30 yards with aid of a slight deflection off the wall. County made efforts to get back into the game immediately with a couple of slick moves left side and Amond had a shot blocked left side of the area by Rawson. On 8 minutes, Labadie did well with a forceful run down the left side and was crudely taken out by James. The referee played on trying to let game flow but it was small change when Amond was forced wide and his shot from an acute angle was blocked. The crowd were left incensed when no card was forthcoming for the Forest Green defender and Labadie had to leave the pitch after not recovering from treatment. Willmott came on in place and added some impetus right side with County seeing plenty of possession but they rushed or forced play on times. On 20 minutes, a more cohesive move by County saw the ball thread across the middle but Dolan thrashed a wild effort  from 25 yards well over when he had better options down either flank. Forest Green continued to be the more decisive unit with Campbell playing up front to lead the line and Brown and Williams having energy and craft to threaten in behind. On 22 minutes, Brown crept inside with another run which was poorly tracked by County and his low crisp shot from the left corner was saved well low down by Day. County created a better more thoughtful move on 25 minutes working the ball from the right to left and back into the centre and Bakinson struck a decent effort from 25 yards which dipped wide of the right post and bar. Forest Green remained positive pushing their full backs forward when invited with Mills busy left side and Shepherd delivering a couple of decent crosses on the right side. County did better when they picked holes on the break and had a decent chance on 32 minutes when Amond ghosted in on the right side of the box to exploit space. He chipped a decent cross into the area and with Rovers only having one defender back Matt rose well ahead of Gunning but his header from 10 yards went straight at reserve keeper Montgomery. Williams continued to cause problems with some dynamic runs on the break and when County lost possession cheaply they were in trouble. On 33 minutes, Bennett was booked for a late tackle tracking back down the middle to avert danger as Williams threatened again. County made efforts to raise the bar getting on with the game but some of decisions by the referee Busby stifled any advantage they were trying to seek. On 40 minutes, Pipe was booked for pushing Brown after he stood over the ball to delay a thrown in with County making an honest effort to get on with the game. County lost discipline and their shape moments later with Pipe and Willmott both outfoxed by Mills on the left side. He carried a strong run forward before slipping a good pass to Williams who threaded a pass inside for Campbell to latch onto inside area. With County stretched, Franks made an attempt to block but Campbell cleverly delayed his shot and cut inside the defender before blasting home. County raised efforts again as half time approached and got a foothold back in the game in first half injury time when Montgomery came well off his line for a ball he was never going to claim and floored Amond inside the area. Amond took the spot kick and calmly slotted home to give County a massive lift. County should have been level moments later when a snappy move by County saw Matt glance a decent header ahead of Gunning and with Rawson in no mans land Amond cut inside and drove his effort from 20 yards just wide of the left post.

The early stages of the second half were surprisingly low key with Forest Green happy to slow the game down and their tactics of getting tight and stifling worked a treat with the referee lenient on the pulling and blocking going on. County had a glimmer of chance on 50 minutes when Franks crept forward from deep into midfield and blasted an opportunist effort from 30 yards just wide of right post and bar. On 52 minutes, Forest Green cleared long with a harmless looking pass and Pipe in his attempt to thread quick pass back down the middle lost possession in a dangerous position. County were exposed and Campbell played a quick through ball for Williams to latch onto and Butler got tangled the wrong side giving the referee little option other than to send him off. Then from the resultant free kick there was a double whammy with Williams curling a dipping effort into the left corner beyond the grasp of County keeper Day from 30 yards. County had a brief spell when they picked up their game winning some free kick and corners. On 55 minutes, a corner from the right side by Willmott was glanced just wide of the left post by Matt under pressure from Rawson. County pushed on but were always vulnerable to the counter and Forest Green added another goal on 57 minutes with Williams enjoying the freedom of Rodney Parade cutting inside left side of the box. He played a simple one two with Campbell who had the luxury of space to set him up and he expertly curled his effort from 25 yards into the right corner beyond Day. County made a change almost immediately with Dolan being replaced by O’Brien with County striving to shore up the defence and concede no more goals. Forest Green replaced Williams on 62 minutes for another attacking outlet Grubb who slotted in just beyond Campbell. There was little respite for County with Rovers using their extra man well and working some patient moves from deep. On 70 minutes, a move going through just about the whole Rovers team was nearly rounded off when Brown picked holes again near the edge of the area. He adjusted well before thrashing a low shot which Day saved well in the left corner. Rovers made another change on 72 minutes which was like for like with Reid replacing Campbell up front. County had a glimmer of chance on 72 minutes when corner on the left side by Willmott was met well by Franks but deflected back into the path of O’Brien. He held the ball well and hit a smart volley near the edge of the box which was well blocked by McGinley. Forest Green introduced their final change on 75 minutes with Collins replacing McGinley but the pattern of the game remained similar with County struggling to maintain possession. County brought Semenyo on to replace Matt after 80 minutes which gave County some impetus final third in the dying embers of the game but they were struggling to work the keeper. On 86 minutes, Bennett did well to steal possession in a tackle and drive through the middle but his effort from 20 yards was scooped wide of the left post. Rovers had a couple of chances late on to extend their lead with space County invited with Demetriou pushing forward to give presence up front. On 88 minutes, Rovers broke from deep with a swift counter that saw Shepherd find Grubb and he had time right side of the area but his low shot was beaten away well by Day. Injury time was played out with County unable to lay a glove on the Rovers defence and County were thankful for a couple of headers by Franks to avert more humiliation.

Day (5) –  could have possibly done more on both free kicks reacting late but made some good saves from distance to keep score down. Kicked well under pressure.

Pipe (4) –  got involved unnecessarily pushing Brown and poor pass that lead to Butler sending off. Made some good recovery tracking back but always vulnerable with ten men.

Butler (5) – instigated the best moves first half but threat was restricted well and he was forced back. Got wrong side of player on sending off but had little option

Demetriou (6) – despite cast on face competed well and did well when turned back getting tight. Played some good passes in behind but overworked on times today.

Franks (5) – did well in the air and carried threat on set pieces but lack of composure on times with clearances and got sold on second goal sitting on the floor to challenge.

Labadie (5) – did his best to make things happen before very early injury and was replaced by:

Willmott (5) – had some influence before half time from crosses but never really looked comfortable playing in the middle and got beaten too easily in the tackle and in the air.

Bakinson (5) – was too happy to help the ball on and showed little nerve to keep ball when it was needed. Flirted with a couple of shots from distance but not the game enough.

Bennett (6) – on of the few players who showed composure and care with the ball picking his battles well. Worked hard throughout and had a couple of shots off target.

Dolan (5) –  went missing for most of the first half and even before the sending off could get a foothold in the game being slow to the loose ball conceding too many cheap free kicks.

Matt (5) – did his best to close down and get across man and didn’t seem to be aware of acres of space when he dropped off. Restricted on chances but did win some good headers

Amond (6) – did fair share of work especially after going down to ten men dropping into the middle. Looked the most likely to score and had several shots blocked when well placed



Strengths –
controlled possession and were intelligent with the use of the ball. They were competitive in midfield and dynamic using pace well in the final third

Weaknesses –  small side across midfield and won little in the air but played to their strengths. Both centre backs were error prone when pressed and keeper uncertain on crosses

Opportunities –  they kept ball down more and played little men first half which paid off. Kept passing the ball to death after sending off to wear County’s spirit down.
Threats –
 Campbell was clever with his link play, Brown and Williams pace and runs in behind and shots from distance. Mills passed and linked decisively left flank

J Busby (5) – got key decisions right but frustrated County with his ignorance of much of the cynical climbing and nudging then failed to punish blatant delaying tactics.

George Williams – showed pedigree that got him Welsh international caps with his quality on free kicks but damage he did was box to box which County struggled to track.


County know they are going to have some drop in form or standards and it looks like December is going to be that month. Forest Green Rovers had their dip in November but have now recovered to supersede County in the play-off zone. The lack of depth in the County squad was evident in November but the defensive frailties continue to impair their results gain as they drop down the league. Having said that, County are still only four points off the play offs and know they can make amends if they can plug the gap at the back. The most disappointing element of the performance today was sloppy nature of the defending and decision making was poor with Rovers quicker in body and mind and it was enough for their lively front three to pick holes once Labadie went off. The sending off made the task of turning the game around impossible and after that it was damage limitation. County have a quick chance to prove the doubters wrong when Crawley Town visit Rodney Parade Saturday. The indifferent County performance at Crawley should be enough of a motivation and they certainly owe them one from that game alone. Crawley have been very hold and cold this season and rely much on direct play into Palmer, link play by Gambin and energy from wing back Young right side in providing crosses. A plug County will need to fill with Butler now suspended but one they can manage.