Newport County v Oxford United

Tuesday 25th August 2018   ko 7:45pm

League Cup 2nd Round


Report from Mark Vickery at Rodney Parade


Newport County 0

Oxford United 3 (Demetriou own goal 2, Baptiste 4, Whyte 90+1


Attendance: 2,228



Newport County        LWWDWW     

Oxford United            LLWLLW        



Mad five minutes proves costly



Several changes on both sides so key will be which side adapts better. Oxford only gained their first league win Saturday but expecting them to offer plenty of tempo so key County close down

Cloudy, mild with little breeze. Pitch was in excellent condition.

Very slow start gifting early goals and despite plentiful possession lacked cutting edge

Oxford second goal made the task harder.

County made several changes with first choice keeper Joe Day sacrificed to the bench allowing Nick Townsend to make his second appearance of the season. County kept the same defensive line-up but captain Andrew Crofts returned after injury in place of Matt Dolan who was rested. Charlie Cooper came in for Josh Sheehan who was on the bench. There were two changes up front with Jamille Matt and Antione Semenyo replacing Padriag Amond and Mark Harris who was not selected due to a slight knock. Oxford started with purpose showing plenty of good movement and went ahead inside 2 minutes when some passive defending by County on the right side allowed Baptiste to steal possession and drive to the left byline. From an acute angle, he managed to drill back a decent ball into the six yard box which Demetriou appeared to have under control to clear but he ended turning the ball past Townsend for an own goal. County made efforts to pick out their passes from deep but went further behind on 4 minutes when a move broke and Oxford swept forward again on the left flank with Garbutt threading a low pass for Baptiste. This time he cut inside and was allowed far too much freedom to spin off a weak challenge and made the most of space invited in the middle before blasting into the top left corner from 25 yards. County were numbed by the start Oxford made and Obika was close to a third on 6 minutes from a shot on the turn which Franks blocked well. County eased their way into the game turning Oxford back and were awarded a corner on 10 minutes on the left flank. Cooper swung over a decent ball into the six yard box which Matt got up well ahead of Dickie but the effort fizzed just wide of the right post. Oxford continued to press hard and deny County space and were quick to counter from deep with left back Garbutt supporting moves well inside the final third. County were struggling to check the pace Oxford offered especially in the middle with Baptiste and Ruffles quick to the ball and Smith leading the line up top. County were thwarted by a couple of marginal offside decisions with Semenyo riding the line and sharper pass may have got him in. On 18 minutes, Semenyo did well to play a one two with Butler on the left side of the area and carry a strong run to the byline. He cut back a decent ball into the six yard box which Matt got a touch to but Mitchell made a good instinctive saved with his legs. Semeny grew into the game and had a couple of good situations playing off the last defender but wanted too long to address his shot allowing Oxford to recover. County had a better spell midway through the half being more decisive and snappy especially on the break. On 28 minutes, Franks did well to support a move in behind with Garbutt caught out of position and his run took him down the right side of the box. He checked back and showed good vision to find the late run of Bakinson but his shot under pressure from 14 yards scooped over the bar. On 32 minutes, County had a corner again on the left flank which Demetriou rose well to meet from 8 yards but the glanced heading went just wife of the left post. Then on 35 minutes, an opportunist break by Oxford caught County out when Whyte combined well to set up Obika who struck a decent effort just around the left post from 25 yards. On 40 minutes, County created a busy move on the right side working it sharp to feet and Oxford were coaxed out of position. Forbes made a bold run on the flank to support and his whipped cross was glanced towards the top left corner but Mitchell adjusted his feet just in time to claim the ball. Oxford continued to press as half time approached with Garbutt and Smith working the keeper after some bold runs in the final third. On 45 minutes, Cooper was booked for a rash tackle on Baptiste who continued to cause problems with his quick feet. Deep in injury time, Bakinson was well positioned after a decent move by County to drill a low shot from 25 yards which was dragged just wide of the left post.

Oxford set their stall out to protect their lead and play on the break using the pace of Baptiste and Obika with Smith contesting well in the air. On 50 minutes, County lost possession in the left corner and a quick ball by Norman released Obika on the right side of the area. From an acute angle he directed a decent low effort from 14 yards which Townsend saved in the left corner           . County worked a decent move moments later on the left flank with Butler doing well to overlap and take the ball into the corner. From a difficult position his cross flashed deep but Forbes seized the loose ball but his first time effort went from 16 yards went over the bar. County kept plugging away moving the ball pretty well to shift Oxford around but they were finding space and opportunities restricted. On 60 minutes, Cooper was booked for use of the elbow when brushing away from a challenge by Hanson. Oxford made a change soon after with Henry coming on right side to replace Obika. County responded with an attacking change replacing Cooper with Marsh-Brown. The game went a little stale midway through the half with Oxford happy to keep County at arms-length and despite putting in a couple of searching cross which Matt contested well, County were struggling to test the keeper. County made another change on 70 minutes with Matt replaced by Amond. This gave County more control and built better cohesion but despite the possession the best they could find was a goal-bound shot from distance by Franks which Mousinho got an key block on. There were further changes with Crofts replaced by Sheehan for County and Ruffels departing for Brannagan for Oxford. The game had been competitive but lacking edge on times so it was surprising to see Hanson lunge foot up in a low challenge with Semenyo on 78 minutes. Hanson was sent off and Dickie was also booked in the altercation that followed. Oxford made their final change on 82 minutes with Long replacing Smith up front. On 86 minutes, a counter attack by Oxford offered a two v two situation and Smith slipped a good pass in behind for Whyte who was forced to the right side of the area but Townsend saved well in the right corner and Demetriou cleared to safety. On 88 minutes, County had claims for another red card when a direct ball from Demetriou picked out the run of Amond who was goalside of Garbutt but he was pulled back. Garbutt got away with a booking and Butler saw his effort from a free kick go narrowly wide of the left post. County pushed on deep in injury time and were punished further when Garbutt placed a precise low cross into the six yard box which Whyte turned home ahead of Townsend. County kept plugging away in the seven minutes of injury time with both Marsh-Brown and Demetriou having decent efforts blocked deep inside the area but the Oxford defence remained resolute protecting their lead.

Townsend (5) –  could have been more assertive to divert first goal and got nowhere near the late goal. Kicking and handling erratic but made some smarts saves to keep County in it

Forbes (6) – could have got tighter on first goal and lost ball on the second goal cheaply. Steadied himself to get forward well and provide some decent crosses.

Butler (7) – made himself hard to beat and distributed well. Despite having to track back which he did well found more space second half and put in a fair quota on inviting crosses.

Demetriou (6) –  put under pressure in some of the aerial duals and looked less secure after knock to his head. Cleared well under pressure and composed finding passes.

Bennett (6) – busy game, having to turn back several times and tidy up. Was generally tidy and efficient with his passes timing his tackles.

Franks (7) – did well in the air and made several excellent headers to clear danger. Got forward using ball well at feet and went close on couple of set pieces.

Bakinson (5) – made efforts to play a little further forward but got closed down quickly and unable to put a stamp on the game which bogged down by several stifling challenges.  

Crofts (5) – made slow start and still seems to be suffering effects of injury. Won some good headers and saw ball but passing was littered with mistakes

Cooper (5) –  struggled to keep the ball on the pitch and always looked rushed today. Competed well and provided some crosses but taken off early after brash challenge.

Matt (5) –  always a threat inside box but never really played to strengths being forced to play back to goal and forced well outside the box. Had one clearcut chance he went close on

Semenyo (6) –  grew into the game and had spells when he worked openings turning defenders at the heart of the better chances. Closing down on times was lax  



Strengths –
they were compact and defended well as a unit, pressing play well. Offered plenty of verve and energy which never allowed County to rest.

Weaknesses –  both full backs were gung-ho on times leaving gaps and they conceded several fouls across the pitch but got away with a lot of the cynical challenges.

Opportunities – they got ball down first half and created chances through some zip and tempo. Went more direct second half playing percentage game
Threats –
 Baptiste was strong holding ball and closing down. Obika linked well and Whyte box to box. Garbutt got forward well when invited to provide crosses.

S Duncan (6) – had to be reminded by linesman on several key challenges. Missed a lot of the pulling and seemed to struggle with speed of game

John Mousino – Baptiste will probably take the plaudits but central defender marshalled danger well and prevented several openings by his quick thought and intervention.


County have been in good form and with both sides making so many changes today it was always going to key on which side settled better. Despite Oxford having some injuries up front they adjusted well and it was their energy and desire in the first ten minutes that did the damage. County were passive early on and their failure to get a tackle in on both goals was very costly. County did recover somewhat and when they were precise and intricate enough to impair Oxford’s high pressing game they gave them problems forcing free kicks but ultimately lacked quality and a killer touch in the final third. County will take some learning from this game as they will need to restrict crosses better but when they got a head of steam up with their passing they were effective outside the box. Next up is Port Vale away with County now seeking their first away win and the hosts having one win in five the first goal could be key. County need to impose their game from the offset and may need heading practice for this one with the main threat from first time crosses with Pope and runs in behind from Miller.