Newport County v Northampton Town
25th November 2018 k.o
Sky Bet Football League Two
Report from Mark Vickery at Rodney Parade
Newport County 3 (Sheehan 5, Matt 31, Amond 33)
Northampton Town 1 (Williams 11)
Newport County DDWLDLWWWL
Northampton Town WWLWWWWLDD
Unwary Cobblers undone by County
County have showed bite and a response after all defeats this season but will need to keep patience tonight against an experienced but ageing Northampton side.
Mild, cloudy with keen breeze. Pitch quite greasy and slippery but in decent condition despite the deluge today.
OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Dominated proceeding first half punished Northampton ruthlessly but sat back later.
The second goal gave County a deserved lead again which they never looked like relinquishing.
County made three changes with Charlie Cooper, Antoine Semenyo and Cameron Pring all dropping to the bench in place Andy Crofts, Josh Sheehan and Mark O’Brien. County adopted a 5-3-2 formation with O’Brien slotting in as centre back. County made their intentions clear from the offset looking to put Saturday defeat at Cheltenham behind them. County were quick to get shot inside the first couple of minutes when Pipe did well on right side of the area and showed good visibility to pick out Sheehan inside. He adjusted quickly to drill a low shot from 20 yards which the keeper Cornell saved well low down. Northampton set their stall out to play on the break with ex-Newport midfielder Sam Foley positive carrying the ball left side. County continue to probe away with confidence and opened the scoring on 5 minutes from a decent move and build up. Crofts did well to thread the ball out of the left channel and find the run made Butler who played a neat square pass for Sheehan. This time Sheehan took an extra the ball on extra yard to beat Williams and he curled a precise effort into the left corner from 25 yards. Northampton made efforts to respond with Hoskins working hard to provide an outlet on the right flank but County marshalled the threat well. Northampton showed little appetite to pass the ball and use the midfield and persisted with the right side winning a couple of corners. On 11 minutes, it paid dividends although the goal was somewhat fortuitous when Buchanan delivered a testing delivery from a corner right side. County made efforts to clear but the ball deflected back into the path of ex Hereford striker Andy Williams who rifled home expertly with a neat half volley from 12 yards. County were direct on times using Matt and Amond with a good combination of high and low balls to test a sluggish Northampton defence. County were close to a second goal on 16 minute, when Matt glanced on a good header ahead of Taylor which Amond collected and he set up Bakinson who blasted a decent volley just wide of the left post from 20 yards. County were offering good movement and appetite on the ball and Northampton had another warning on 20 minutes when Bakinson found Sheehan with a neat ball through the middle. He had the option of Amond left side of the area who did well to pull the defender wide and Sheehan blasted just wide of the left post from 25 yards. Northampton persisted with pinging balls long and in behind to test County who were forced back but showed good discipline and concentration to clear. Northampton were keen to work the flanks to test County with Hoskins angling runs right side and Buchannan and Foley busy right side. County stifled the threat well despite a couple of hopefuls crosses and when Northampton pushed on, they were always vulnerable at the back. On 31 minutes, County were awarded a free kick left side of the area in decent position for Butler to deliver the set piece. Northampton had looked uncertain dealing with crosses and when the ball dropped deep O’Brien was left unmarked and direct a super header towards the left corner and Matt applied the finishing touch. Northampton looked increasingly shaky with County upping the tempo and dynamic coming forward. On 33 minutes, Northampton pushed on very high up the pitch gambling with several men forward but lost the ball cheaply in the right corner. Butler played a quick measured pass for Bakinson to race onto and who beat Taylor with quick turn of speed neat the left flank. He delivered an excellent cross into the area which Amond finished with a bullet header from 8 yards ahead of Pierre. Northampton remained bold despite the setback committing men into the corners with Buchannan prominent left side. On 38 minutes, Northampton worked a decent move left side of the box before Buchannan swung over a decent cross and Williams ghosted in with a late header from 10 yards which went well over. County had to defend a series of crosses on the stroke of half time and Demetriou received some attention for a clash of heads to win a brave header to deny O’Toole.
Northampton made a tactical change at half time with O’Toole replaced by Waters who went attacking left side in a front three and Foley slotting in central midfield. Northampton were settled by the change with Foley doing well coordinate some moves through the middle and County were forced to defender deeper. On 53 minutes, a more cohesive Northampton move from right to left saw Buchannan link to find Hoskins and he came in on his right foot but his effort from left corner of the box was wide of right post and bar. County were struggling to find the same fluency with their passing and despite having opportunities the final ball lacked precision. On 58 minutes, Northampton worked a decent patient move across the face of the County box and Hoskins again showed an eye for goal blasting low but Day handled low down. Northampton made a change on 63 minutes with Van Veen replaced by Powell. County continued to scrap for the ball in midfield with the ball spending a lot of time in the air and when County did have a good situation they overplayed the pass on times. On 66 minutes, Foley lost possession in a dangerous area and when Bakinson retrieved the loose ball, Northampton were in trouble with Amond and Matt paired up with just Taylor and Pierre but the pass was wayward. On 72 minutes, County created a decisive move right side with Pipe breaking up a Northampton move well and his quick pass found Matt. He span off a challenge and caressed a great pass for Bakinson who side stepped a challenge from Pierre but his shot from an acute angle was parried away by Cornell. County made a change to freshen up their attacking options on 82 minutes with Matt replaced by Semenyo. Northampton continued to play more patiently with Powell showing strength to carry the ball and work openings. On 85 minutes, Powell went on an individualistic run near the left side of the area before striking a decent low effort just wide of the right post. Northampton made another change soon after with Roberts replacing Hoskins. County had a couple of raids forwards late in game but were content to sit back and deny space. On 87 minutes, Northampton went more direct again catching County asleep when Taylor played a precise pass down the middle and O’Brien was forced to make a recovering tackle back to deny Williams shooting. Northampton forced a couple of late corners which County struggled to effectively on times. In time added on Taylor blasted a volley high over the bar which summarised the quality of finishing Northampton offered on the night. County held out to get some important points back on the board and the result was never in doubt despite some late disjointed pressure.
Day (7) – assured with his handling and clearances under pressure especially first half. Made a couple of smart saves bur distribution was a little wayward second half.
Pipe (7) – kept driving side on, steely determination since regaining his place in the side. Timed his tackles and made some well timed runs to provide some crosses.
Butler (7) – contributed well final third and made very few errors with passing. Put under some pressure second half but also put in several decent set pieces.
O’Brien (6) – easing his way back to fitness, did well in the air timing headers immaculately and always a threat on set pieces. Missed a couple of long balls but recovered well.
Demetriou (6) – got programmed into turning back and clearing deep in the left corner. Won some good headers but distribution was little wayward on times.
Franks (7) – showed usual prowess in the air and cleared well under pressure. Dealt well with the pace offered left side and made a couple of important interventions six yard box.
Bakinson (6) – had a good first half seeing ball early and made some penetrating runs. Went close with a couple of shots and set up goal well. Bit lax with passing second half.
Crofts (8) – building up fitness well since return to the side. Took up some good positions and passed well. Faded a little second half but kept battling and showed other side of game.
Sheehan (7) – possibly his best game this season and return to form hopefully. Got amongst it, linked and passed well, got his shots in and scored excellent goal
Matt (7) – made presence first half and combined well to unsettle Northampton central defenders. Took his chance clinically inside six yard box and worked hard before fading.
Amond (8) – covered every blade of the pitch and did a lot of the dirty work, got into some good positions, did well under pressure and anticipated for third goal brilliantly.
SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths – they were quite bold and quick to get men into the area and offered some strengths from set pieces with aerial prowess.
Weaknesses – both full backs left gaping holes and they looked laboured on times defending leaving players unmarked on set pieces. Finishing lacking and passing erratic
they went direct for much of the first half looking to turn County and provide
early crosses. Offered more thought after half time keeping the ball low.
Threats – Andy Williams had a knack of getting into area with timed runs. Hoskins busy and shots from distance. O’Toole was good in air and worked box to box.
L Swabey (8) – thought he controlled game well and read it allowing advantage best he could. No booking confirmed that
MAN OF THE MATCH
Padraig Amond – worked tirelessly, superb third goal to kill game effectively and was alert to ball in transition and pulled Northampton defence in areas they didn’t want to be
IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
County again showed the right response needed after a disappointing weekend defeat and the reaction was pleasing especially after the setback of conceding a soft goal against the run of play. Northampton were suicidal on times flooding men forward and showed little respect to their league position in the first half. County continue to be talked down by some factions as being in a “false position” and perhaps that was evident again today. They may not be the finished article, yet, but they ruthlessly swept forward from deep and took their chances clinically with some precise passing and there was a bit of anger in their performance after Saturday. County had several options on set pieces which Northampton found hard to manage despite their aerial presence. The second half was less eventful with County sitting back and when they did have opportunities they seemed to get a little excited on the ball overplaying their passes or forcing the play. Northampton offered their main threat from telegraphed balls in behind and County will need to ensure they maintain concentration better and not switch off particularly with balls through the middle. Next up is Wrexham away in the FA Cup and a chance for County to banish a ghost or two having not won there since 1980. Wrexham are in the mix for promotion this season being built on a tight defence with ex-Grimsby centre back Shaun Pearson at the helm and ex-York City midfield Luke Summerfield controlling a tight centre midfield. County will need to track the runs of winger Paul Rutherford who can play left or right side and former league striker Stuart Beavon who will shoot on sight if invited. Wrexham have plenty of experience and know how so it will be important County use their strengths to win the war of attrition.