Newport County v Port Vale

Saturday 1st September 2018   k.o 3:00pm

Sky Bet League Two


Report from Mark Vickery at Rodney Parade


Port Vale 1 (Pope 27)

Newport County (Bennett 18, Butler 48)


Attendance: 4,485



Newport County    LWWDWWL    

Port Vale                WLLWLL       



Gutsy first away win



Several players are back after being rested midweek in the EFL Cup. Port Vale have lost four in five so key County assert their game when invited and deal with their direct approach

Warm, sunny spells little breeze. Pitch was slow but in excellent condition.

Defended resolutely, stood up to abrasive physical approach and enterprising final third

None to note but Port Vale did make changes to come into the game second half.

County made several change from the Oxford League Cup match midweek with first choice keeper Joe Day replacing Nick Townsend and David Pipe came in at right back in place of Tyler Forbes who was on the bench. Matt Dolan returned in central midfield replacing Andrew Crofts who had an ankle injury so Micky Demetriou took the captains arm band. County also made another change in midfield with Josh Sheehan replacing Charlie Cooper who named as a substitute. There was also changes up top with Padraig Amond and Mark Harris resuming their partnership in place of Jamille Matt and Antoine Semenyo who were on the bench. Vale made their intentions clear from the offset with direct play from the back using the robust target frame of Tom Pope who contested well across the line. On 2 minutes, Vale forced County deep and Dodds struck a first time effort from 25 yards which dragged wide of the left post and bar. On 5 minutes, left back Montano drove forward from deep with a strong which County left untracked and he cut back a decent ball into the area which Bennett cleared to the edge the area but some indecision by County allowed Worall to hit a snapshot from 6 yards which Day saved well low down. County made efforts to pick holes when Port Vale squandered possession cheaply in the middle and there as a warning on 8 minutes when Bakinson made a penetrating run down the middle after a neat low pass by Sheehan but his effort from 25 yards was wide of the left post. Vale continued to ask questions from crosses with Montano putting Pipe under pressure with supporting runs left side. On 10 minutes, County invited another cross from the left which Pope did well win shielding ahead of Bennett and his shot on the turn from 16 yards was well saved by Day into the right corner. County remained bright and positive coming forward with Amond and Harris showing a good understanding. On 15 minutes, County created a decent move down the middle of the pitch with Harris carrying his run across the face of the area and Montano clipped his legs. From the free kick, Dolan whipped in a decent delivery forcing the keeper Brown to tip over the bar. From the resulting corner on the left side, Sheehan curled a decent ball into the area which Demetriou met unmarked from 10 yards but his header was just over the bar. County were buoyed by their approach play with Harris and Sheehan unsettling the Vale defence with some strong runs. On 18 minutes, County were rewarded with a corner on the left side from Sheehan which had venom on it. The ball fell loose and despite the initial shot being blocked Bennett poked home into the left corner from 8 yards. County were settled by the goal creating some good moves on the flanks and Vale were forced into conceding several free kicks. The hosts persisted with the direct approach which County stifled well with Pope continuing with his abrasive approach. County set their stall out to counter from deep and had a great chance to extend their lead on 23 minutes when Bakinson hit a precise effort right side of the box forcing Brown to parry around the post. County were creating some decent moves inside the final third going through a number of phases and another promising on 25 minutes saw Sheehan provide a searching cross from the left side of the box which just eluded Amond at the back stick. Montano continued to offer the main threat driving forward on the left side from deep. On 27 minutes, after winning a corner from such situation, Vale equalised when corner on the left side by Hannant who headed home by Pope by close range with the cross appearing to deceive County keeper Day. Vale gained confidence from their goal continuing to test County with crosses and Clark came into the game on the right side. On 30 minutes, Clark cut inside on the right channel and chipped a decent cross to the back post which Franks got up ahead of Pope but his clearing header appeared to strike the outside of the left post. Vale had the wind in their sails and another bright move on 33 minutes, saw Montano again creep forward to exploit space and his cross was cut back from the right side of the box and Pope got a header in the crowd from 10 yards which hit the right post and dropped to safety before Bennett cleared. As half time approached, County settled down again with some neat passing moves and it nearly paid dividends on 43 minutes with a move that saw the Vale defence go into a trance. Pipe supported the move right side of the area and he linked well with Sheehan who slipped a reverse pass to find Bakinson who hit a low shot from an acute angle but Brown stooped down to claim low down. County had looked threatening inside the area throughout out the first half and had a honest looking appeal for a penalty in first half injury time when ex-TNS central defender Rawlinson clambered all over Harris but the referee waved the appeals away.

County continued where they left off after half time with some enterprising moves especially on the flanks. On 48 minutes, it paid dividends with a good move on the right side with Sheehan pulling the strings. He played a good low pass to Amond on the right edge of the area who flicked neatly inside and the nervous clearance was deflected into the path of Harris. He showed good awareness near the byline to find Butler who made a late inside the area and slotted into the right corner from 10 yards. County maintained their tempo and sharpness with Vale inpatient several free kicks were induced. On 50 minutes, Legge bowled over Harris when held the ball up well and the referee showed remarkable leniency to not book the player. Moments later Butler was clattered late when Hardcastle made a bursting run from midfield to win a 40-60 ball. Then, another foul went unpunished on 55 minutes when Amond was clattered cynically by Legge but still no booking come forward. County were moving the ball efficiently and Vale looking increasingly uncertain County had a great chance to forge further ahead on 60 minutes after a neat move on the right side. Pipe did well to measure a pass in behind for Harris which he won ahead of Rawlinson and he cut back a low ball into the six yard box which Sheehan met at the front post but was denied by a reflex save by Brown. Port Vale made a substitution just after to pep up their game with Whitfield replacing Dodds and Miller replacing Hardcastle. Vale switched their tact mirroring County 352 with Montano left wing back and Whitfield right wing back. County also forced into a change at the same time with Amond not recovering from his knock and Matt was introduced. Vale were quick to test County with crosses from both flanks which forced some hurried clearances. With Vale players pushing on, County had opportunities on the break when Matt and Harris worked close together. Then with game heating up, Vale had calls for penalty on 64 minutes when a Pope header was going wide of the mark but appeared to catch the hand of Franks but the referee ignored the appeals. On 66 minutes, Harris did well to pick up the flick on by Matt and drive into acres of space in the middle and was unlucky to see his powerful effort from 25 yards fizz just wide of the right post. Several untidy free kicks continued to disrupt the flow of the game but Vale were close on 72 minutes when Pope bumped Demetriou off a challenge near the edge of the box but his lofted effort went wide of the right post. Vale made their final change moments later with Gibbins replacing Montano. Miller was keen to get shots when invited and his energy and verve created problems for County. On 75 minutes, Miller was allowed to steal possession right side of the area and he hit a first time dipping effort into the right side netting. On 78 minutes, Clark drove forward on the left flank with County reluctant to challenge and his pass inside invited Miller to curl a shot from 25 yards which clipped the outside of the right post. County were under the cosh and made defensive change on 80 minutes with O’Brien replacing Sheehan. County had to contend with scraps on the break and a decent move on the left side on 82 minutes invited Dolan to shoot from 20 yards but his low effort was wide of the left post. Dolan was then caught late by Joyce in the middle of the pitch and Vale got their first booking of the game. Miller was determined to get on the scoresheet and went on another solo run on 85 minutes this time cutting inside from the right side only for his low shot from 20 yards to be well held by Day. County had some opportunities to break late on the match with Vale pushing several men forward but they were happy to keep the ball and run down the clock which they did well in the left corner. In the second minute of injury time, Harris was replaced by Marsh-Brown and County were forced to defend deeply on times with Vale forcing a couple of late corners. Bakinson went close with a shot from distance which was dragged wide and high of the right post. County held out stubbornly in the five minutes of injury time and got a boisterous applause at the end for sealing their first away win of the season.

Day (7) –  put under pressure with some kicks and distribution. Should have dealt with corner on Vale goal but recovered to make some important saves low down and safe punching.

Pipe (6) – bit slow making a tackles on times and given problems by Montano. Steadied himself to play deeper second half but distributed well with some measured pass in behind.

Butler (7) – got forward in some prominent positions and gave assurance working ball precisely. Made a great run from deep to score and worked the line well today.

Demetriou (7) –  didn’t have his own way in the air with Pope but stuck to the tasks to marshal danger away and made some decent clearances under pressure to mop up play.

Bennett (7) – made some strong headers and well timed challenges to intercept danger. Cleared several crosses and showed his value from set pieces finishing expertly.

Franks (8) – most comfortable dealing with Pope, strong and forced him to play other side. Made some important interventions inside the area clearing well and kept passing tidy.

Bakinson (7) – did well linking intricate play and penetrated in the final third going close a couple times with ball at feet. Worked tirelessly and never let up.  

Dolan (6) – got bogged down in a battle with Joyce. Found glimpses of space and provided some crosses today but more defensive with less influence in the final third.

Sheehan (7) –  busy game and at the heart of the best moves. Showed good vision to provide some decent passes and crosses some often not read. Deserved a goal for his efforts

Amond (6) –  quiet game restricted on chances, worked hard and when he made the ball stick he was clever with it. Got prised away too often and forced off after knock.

Harris (8) –  effervescent game, constant nuisance made several runs across defenders and at the heart of the goals. Got little protection today from referee but kept discipline well



Strengths –
the full backs got forward well from deep to construct crosses and they were effective inside the box and set pieces.

Weaknesses –  offered space quite tamely when their moves broke down especially down the middle. Got away with several heavy challenges and overcooked direct game.

Opportunities – they went from conventional 442 to wing back last half an hour and offered more threat in the final third creating chances.
Threats –
 Pope had aerial prowess and eye for goal. Montano crosses left side, Miller individual skill and shots late on. Worrall did well linking play

M Coy (6) – very lenient but generally consistent. Offered little protection on tackles from behind and was reluctant to book.

Fraser Franks – removed his hairband at the end but his performance had nothing dainty about it. Did the ugly side of the game well and kept his discipline in the face of adversity.


County are up to the dizzy heights of second but they will not be getting carried away with this performance. It was a dogged, hardworking and thoughtful performance and had the ingredients needed to get their first away win which is a key milestone. Vale were quite one dimensional but effective for an hour with direct play and peppered County with crosses. However, after County regained the lead they were forced on the back-foot for much of the last half an hour but defended stoutly. County were again kicked black up and blue up front with them enterprising and creating some decent chances inside the box. County are a more composed and flexible side this season but they kept their discipline and focus well today and were in no mood to relinquish their lead twice. Next up is Oldham Athletic away and County will need to fathom a different approach with Mark Harris missing the next couple of matches on international duty. Oldham who have had a decent start to the season with ex-Chesterfield target man a key component. County will need to squash that threat and work on improving their transition play to benefit Matt and pick holes in the Oldham rearguard.