Newport County v Oldham Athletic

Tuesday 27th April 2019   k.o 7:45pm

Sky Bet Football League Two

 

Report from Mark Vickery at Rodney Parade

 

Newport County 2 (O’Brien 48, Willmott 79)

Oldham Athletic 0

 

Attendance: 4,642

 

Form:

Newport County        LLWWddWWdW

Oldham Athletic        DDLWWWDdWL         

 

 

County roll their sleeves up to clinch important win

 

 

PRE-MATCH THOUGHTS
County have a degree of pressure on them needing to win this game so key they are composed and focussed. Oldham have little to lose and expect them to sit in and counter hard

CONDITIONS
Mild, cloudy and slight breeze Pitch looked in decent condition.

SUMMING UP OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Not firing on all cylinders but worked hard for what could be a massive win

TURNING POINT
Oldham missed half chances before the County opened the scoring.

THE MATCH
County made just the one change from the side that beat champions Lincoln at Rodney Parade on Saturday with Jamille Matt returning after injury to replace Ben Kennedy. Oldham had nothing to play for but started well playing with freedom using some of the nimble front runners from a five man midfield supporting lone striker Afolayan. Oldham were keen to arrow balls out wide to the channel with Nepomuceno left side and Branger-Engone right flank. County enjoyed possession equally and created some smart moves in the final when they kept their moves simple and sharp but the Oldham defence were alert to deal with some probing crosses. On 10 minutes, Oldham worked a cross from the right side from a free kick by Lang which Edmundson headed well over from 10 yards. County created a good move from deep moments later when Willmott stole a yard ahead of Iacovitti and his low sweeping cross was well anticipated by Dolan who saw his half volley from 10 yards parried around the right post by Oldham keeper De La Paz. From the resulting corner right side Willmott delivered a good cross cut back to the penalty spot which Demetriou poked wide of the right post. Oldham kept persisting with their wide game to stretch County full backs Poole and Butler. On       13 minutes, County switched off dealing with a ball left side of the area allowing Afolayan to seize the loose ball but he dragged a poor effort wide of the right post failing to test County keeper Joe Day. County kept plugging away right side with Poole initiating some good moves right side to free up Willmott who was causing problems for left back Iacovitti. Oldham were forced to anxiously deal with some crosses right side and County added to their corner count. On 18 minutes, a corner right side by Willmott was well met in the air by Amond but his header under pressure inside the six yard box dropped just over the bar. County were keen to get on with the game in the final third but left frustrated on times by a number of obstructing challenges and pulling inside the area when unpunished. Oldham remained tight opting to flood men forward from deep with the pace they carried from midfield. On 22 minutes, County overplayed and a loose pass which went out for a throw in caught them out somewhat when Hamer quick throw released Missilou right side of the area but his crisp effort was parried away well by Day near the right post. Oldham were most effective using the left side of the pitch with Nepomuceno hugging the left touchline but Poole did well to restrict the threat with some good interventions. On 25 minutes, County were close to opening Oldham up when a clever corner routine right side saw Amond pick out Willmott and he thrashed a low effort from 18 yards which De La Paz managed to get down to and hold somewhat unconvincingly. On the half hour, Oldham had a couple of half chances inside a minute when Lang ghosted forward to receive a pass right side and his low effort from an acute was pushed away by Day right side. From the corner which flashed deep Lang was close with his header back post but it lacked cutting edge and drifted wide of the left post. Oldham gained some confidence from their approach play and another decent move on 35 minutes saw them work the ball low and Branger had a snapshot from 12 yards saved well by Day. County struggled to clear effectively and Nepomuceno had his first time effort well blocked by Butler. Oldham were dealt a blow moments later when a Willmott free kick into the area was punched away by De La Paz and his hand appeared to clatter captain Clarke. After receiving five minutes of treatment he was stretchered off with a facial injury and replaced by Hunt who went left back with Iacovitti going centre back. County upped the tempo again as half time approached with some testing crosses put in from both sides with Butler easing his way into the game. Oldham held out with some determined clearances and tackles that the referee turned a blind eye to. Deep in first half injury time, County had a glimmer of a chance when another decent move across the face of area saw Willmott pick out Bennett and his clever pass set up Sheehan for a first time shot from 25 yards which went well over.

County started the second half brightly with some snappy moves especially right side which earned them more corners. County got their reward on 48 minutes, when a County free kick broke down but Willmott overlapped well right side of the area and his deft croft was caressed down into the path of O’Brien. He adjusted well to slam a volley into the left corner from 10 yards despite the attention of Edmundson who was injured whilst attempting to intercept the shot. He was unable to continue after treatment and replaced by Sylla. Oldham were increasingly ragged at the back and County should have extended their lead on 60 minutes. From the left byline Sheehan did well to slip a low pass towards the front post which Matt read but he stabled his shot just wide of the left post. County had another chance moments later with Oldham in disarray when Butler changed direction well chipping a pass from the left flank to the right side of the area to pick out Amond. His first touch was immaculate allowing him to shoot first time from a wide angle but the keeper did well to parry away. Dolan took the corner on the right side and it was precise picking out Demetriou who directed a clever header into the six yard box which Matt reacted to but his header was blocked only for the ball to elude a final touch by Amond. The game remained open with Oldham positive with the ball at their feet and tidy in possession but County marshalled the threat in behind well. On 72 minutes, Poole did well to sweep up some danger and clear on the right flank but was caught late by Afolayan who was booked. Oldham persisted with the wide play approach to test County with Lang forceful in supporting runs right side. On 75 minutes, Lang did well to provide a cross from a difficult angle which Afolayan glanced wide of the left post under pressure from Poole. County responded well with a slick move moments later using the space that opened up left side and Butler provided a decent low cross into the area which Dolan latched onto before hitting a first time volley from a wide angle forcing the keeper. County increased their efforts again snapping at the loose ball and winning their tackles. It paid dividends on 79 minutes when County were most alert right side of the area with Sheehan doing well to prise the ball away in a tackle and Willmott struck an opportunist half volley which crept under the keeper and into the right corner. Oldham made a change soon after to pep up their approach with Benteke replacing Afolayan. County responded with Matt being replaced by Azeez. Oldham were forced to push forward and County were close to another on 88 minutes when Azeez pounced on a mistake by left sided defender Iacovitti. He did well to find Willmott who carried his run cutting inside before curled an effort just over from the right corner of the box. On 90 minutes, County had a free kick in a dangerous position right side of the area. Dolan whipped in a vicious ball that was hard to defend which Amond appeared to get a touch to but the keeper saved low down in the right corner claiming at the second attempt. County made another change soon after with Dolan replaced by Pipe and their final change soon followed with McKirdy on for Amond. To their credit, Oldham kept plugging away with some neat football and went close deep in injury time through the industry of Benteke on the left flank. He made room for a cross into the area which was well dealt with by Demetriou but relieved to see his header drop over the bar. County were in no mood to spoil their clean sheet and got a great response from the crowd at the end for their efforts.

Day (7) – not overworked but made some important saves first half to react and parry to safety. Claimed well in the air but kicking was little erratic.

Poole (8) –  was smart with his tackles and stout defending balls in behind. Won some good brave headers and came forward with some well-timed runs

Butler (7) –  put under some pressure second half and forced back for large spells but still found gaps with some clever crosses and was dynamic when he got chance to push on.

O’Brien (8) –  only scored important goals it seems but his defensive work and organisation in front was key. Dominated in the aerial duals going close several times on set pieces.

Demetriou (8) –  disciplined throughout, concentrated dealing with balls in behind, made some key interventions and provided usual quota of decent long throws.

Dolan (7) – got on the ball to pass well and when he retained possession used it effectively. Got brushed off a few challenges but provided several excellent set pieces.

Bennett (6) – got a bit bogged down and suffered from lack of space. Competed well in the air and on the floor and went close with some late runs to the edge of the area.

Willmott (7) –  had some good spells when he was bold working the full back and his crosses were cutting and varied. At the heart of both goals taking the second expertly.  

Sheehan (7) – did a lot of important work to snap up possession quickly and move ball on. Restricted on shots to goal but worked hard off the ball which was key.

Matt (7) – won fair quota of headers and had a few headers cleared without really working the keeper. Dropped off to link and orchestrate play well rather than waiting for ball

Amond (6) – did his best to get into the game but often drifted outside the box and less effective. Worked hard throughout to retain and pressure defenders into mistakes.

 

SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths –
well organised and adapted well after injuries to both centre backs. Created some good moves in transition and decent first crosses from wide areas.

Weaknesses – lacked cutting edge and physical presence inside the final third. Centre backs were robust but always vulnerable to mistakes when pressed or pace when turned.

Opportunities –  they dropped target man O’Grady and used pace and energy of small foreign players. Worked hard to press but never really change tact.
Threats –
Afolayan was busy and roamed across the line making hard to mark. Lang crosses right side and link play. Nepomuceno and Branger gave options out wide with pace.

OFFICIALS
C Hicks (7) – was generally consistent and you knew where you were with him. Did allow some grace on late tackles first half but got key decisions right.    


MAN OF THE MATCH
Regan Poole – put under some pressure when play was switched to left side but dealt with it well. Won his tackles, quick minded, uncompromising and cleared effectively

IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

County will be satisfied with the result and despite not being at their best will possibly look back on this match with enjoyment as being key to their journey this season. Oldham flooded the middle of the pitch with a nimble five man midfield which County had to be vigilant on throughout but it was imperative today that they fought hard and they did this well. County upped the tempo of their game after half time keeping their moves snappy and this paid dividends on both goals giving Oldham little time to think. Oldham did offer some threat today when they switched the ball out to wide areas in transition often when County moves broke down but the defence remained focussed to avert real clear-cut chances. County next visit Morecambe in the final league knowing a win will guarantee a play-off position though a draw may be enough. Morecambe like Oldham are likely to play with bold freedom and likely to stuff the midfield and suffocate space. County will need to stifle their crosses telegraphed to the back post and deal with threat from wide positions with former County player Aaron Collins up against former team mate Regan Poole and Mingoia an outlet right side supplying aerial ammunition to Ellison. County need to keep their discipline and focus in this one and pick their battles.