Stevenage v Newport County

Tuesday 1st January 2019   k.o 3:00pm

Sky Bet Football League Two  

 

Report from Mark Vickery at the Lamex Stadium

 

Stevenage 1 (Revell 85, Guthrie sent off 39)

Newport County 0

 

Attendance: 2,299

 

Form:

Newport County        WLWdLLWLLd

Stevenage                  LLLWLLDLWL

 

 

Stuttering County fail to capitalise at 10 man Stevenage

 

 

PRE-MATCH THOUGHTS
Both sides have fallen back from the play offs. County midfield looks lightweight again so key they compete and stifle Stevenage’s counter game

CONDITIONS
Cool, partly cloudy dry and keen breeze. Pitch in good condition but a little worn in parts

SUMMING UP OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Started well, impotent in front of goal and never really had firm control of game after sending off

TURNING POINT
Any of the several missed County chances.

THE MATCH
County were forced into a couple of midfield changes with Andrew Crofts injured, Tyreeq Bakinson returned to the side and Mark O’Brien came in for Matt Dolan who was named as substitute. County continued with their 5-3-2 formation with Scott Bennett switching to central midfield. County started on the front foot with a purposeful move down the left side of the area on 2 minutes which saw Butler cut back a low cross into Bakinson. He had his back to goal and his shot on the turn from 8 yards was blocked but snapped up the rebound only for Farman to deny him with a low save in left corner. Also immediately from a threatening position County were in trouble when Seddon burst down the left flank escaping the clutches of Forbes. From near the byline he picked out the late run of Newton who was denied by an important interception from O’Brien inside the six yard box. County continued to enjoy some good possession but Stevenage remained a threat on the break and another move on 12 minutes, saw Guthrie drive into space down the left flank after Demetriou had jumped into a challenge. From an acute angle, on the left side of the area, the momentum of the move was lost and the low shot from an acute angle was diverted by Demetriou who recovered back well to defend. From the resulting corner on the right side Guthrie rose well unchallenged from 10 yards but the header was well marshalled by Day. County created some good situations from deep with Stevenage somewhat untidy in possession. On 18 minutes, County were rewarded with a free kick in a dangerous position left side of the area after Butler had been checked by Kennedy. Willmott took the free kick but his effort clipped the top of the wall and went for a corner. County grew into the game stifling the threat Stevenage offered on the break with Newton working hard in the final third. There were some opportunities to get forward when County won the ball back, but Bennett and Bakinson were often erratic passing and finding the man. On 20 minutes, Demetriou thrashed an opportunist effort wide and high of the left post and bar when there were options either side of the area to stretch the Stevenage defence. The game degenerated midway through the half interrupted by a series of fouls in the middle of the pitch. County were more effective from direct play with Matt and Amond working across the line but they final ball into the was lacking. Stevenage relied on the industry of Newton and Guthrie up front who worked hard to close down. The ploy appeared to backfire on 39 minutes when Franks was caught late in a 50-50 tackle with Guthrie who appeared to leave his foot in. Franks recovered from treatment and County made efforts to up the tempo in the final minutes of the first half. They had a great chance to go ahead on 44 minutes, when Matt dinked through a clever through ball which caught ex-Luton central defender Cuthbert flatfooted and with keeper Farman committed, Amond lifted his shot from 20 yards but it went just over the bar. In first half injury time Stevenage made a tactical change with left back Hunt replaced by Timlin who went central midfield with Stevenage employing a 3-4-2 formation.

The early stages of the second half set a precedent with Stevenage working like trojans on and off the ball giving County little time despite their handicap of ten men. On 50 minutes, Stevenage broke well from deep despite being under some pressure by County and Seddon tricked his way left side of the area only to see his shot well blocked by Franks. Moments later, County had another decent chance from a break on the right side with Seddon in no mans land, Willmott carried a strong run hugging the right channel. He cut back an excellent deep cross to pick out Amond who directed his header from 6 yards just wide of the right post when he should have worked the keeper. An even better chance followed on 55 minutes from the industry of Willmott who Forbes picked out wide right with a quick pass. He dinked a good quick cross into the area stretching the exposed Stevenage defence and Matt unmarked should have buried his header from 8 yards but he generously set up Amond. He had the chance to smash the ball home first time but some indecision allowed Timlin to recover with a brave tackle and somehow Stevenage got the danger scrambled away. Stevenage continued to probe away but were vulnerable when County swept forward and another half chance saw Matt find Amond with a neat pass on the left side of the area but he somewhat rushed his effort blasting over the bar from 18 yards. On 60 minutes, Stevenage made a change to freshen up their approach with Revell replacing Kennedy. Stevenage continued to play more direct using the aerial prowess of Revell and Newton gave little respite to the County defence. On 62 minutes, Forbes was booked for a clumsy tackle from behind on Newton in a dangerous position left side. From the resulting free kick, Timlin put in a decent delivery which County were again slack defending on allowing Newton a free header from 10 yards which flashed just wide of the right post. County made an offensive change soon after to go 4-3-3 with Harris coming on for Forbes and Franks deputising at right back. On 63 minutes, County had a corner on the right side which they cleverly worked shot to the left corner of the area with Butler finding Harris. He adjusted well and his curling effort into the left top corner was parried away well by Farman. Stevenage were content to slow the game down and use Revell as an outlet but they worked hard to contain County. On 75 minutes, County had another chance from a sweeping move right side involving Willmott who carried his run to the byline. His deft teasing cross into the box was punched by Farman under pressure and sat up invitingly for Bennett just inside the area but his volley went wide of the right post when it should have hit the target. It was another big let off for Stevenage and they made another change soon after to bolster their defence with right side Henry replacing Byrom in midfield. Stevenage were keen to attack the left side when invited putting pressure on Franks and a late challenge by Timlin on Franks saw him booked but then Franks was booked for reacting adversely. This encouraged Stevenage to get down the left side with more determination and County were given another warning on 82 minutes when a strong run by Newton saw him penetrate deep in the County half. He cut back across the face of the goal and Timlin had time to pick out a shot which went just wide of the right corner of post and bar. County made another change soon after which was bold but surprising put on Marsh-Brown for Franks with County set up t play 3-4-3. Stevenage kept picking holes left side and punished County for their inability to finish their chances on 85 minutes. A cheap corner on the left side was taken by Timlin and his decent delivery caught County napping with Revell ghosting in to head home unmarked from inside the six yard box. County threw in some crosses in the final stages in a desperate attempt to salvage something from the game and Bennett was booked for catching Revell late in the air. Bennett was replaced soon after by Sheehan who provided the most threat in the seven minutes of injury time. In the fourth minutes of injury time, County worked a patient move from left to right and back into the middle and Sheehan saw his low effort from 20 yards deflected just wide of the right post. Then moments later, Sheehan was at the heart of a good move on the edge of the area linking well with Marsh-Brown and his snapshot from 16 yards crashed against the bar and dropped to safety. Stevenage held on for the most unlikely of results which saw them go above County in the table.

Day (6) –  few clear-cut saves to make, put under some pressure with some kicks and distribution was erratic often kicking into touch. Not always alert to deal with balls in behind.

Forbes (6) –  did reasonably well until he got needless booking. Snapped up loose ball and was sharp with his distribution first half with some intelligent passes.

Butler (6) – restricted getting forward and seemed to offer more threat before sending off and then got pinned back by Kennedy. Restricted on set pieces he got.

O’Brien (6) –  did well in the air and made some important clearances but let Newton get across him far too easily and was slow to recover on times

Demetriou (7) – turned back to clear or avert danger on several occasions and got the ball safe when he couldn’t find man. Made some good interventions to stifle counter attacks.

Bennett (6) – did a job in midfield and saw plenty of the ball but his touch and precision with passing let him down on times. Competed well in the air and should have scored

Franks (5) –  brave in the tackle on the end of a couple of heavy challenges and seemed to get rattled by it. Got a needless booking late on and struggled standing in at full back

Willmott (7) – got bogged down and lost out challenging in the middle. did better when he went wide and provided several decent crosses which should have been finished off.

Bakinson (4) – started well keeping passes neat and tidy for a time, but seemed to suffer when more space offered not getting to first or second ball and poor decisions when he got it.

Matt (5) – was most effective when he got ball under control and shifted it. Didn’t offer enough hunger to get on the end of crosses and missed arguably the best chance.

Amond (5) – took up some good positions before sending off when less space was offered but could have had a hat trick today but calmness to finish went out of the window.

 

 

SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths –
what they did after the sending off and especially after half time was key with desire to get to the ball first, boldness in final third and to chase lost causes.

Weaknesses –  defenders kicked the ball erratically when pressed and better sides would have punished the gaps they left especially with numbers put forward on set pieces.

Opportunities –  set up to play on the break before the sending off but made changes well to stifle County threats and exploited left side after half time making Franks vulnerable.
Threats –
 Newton was dynamic and pressed mistakes final third, Kennedy outlet right side. Revell aerial prowess and guile on the ball final third.

OFFICIALS
A Haines (7) – got the key decisions right but left both sides frustrated for different reasons and lenient with time wasting.


MAN OF THE MATCH
Ben Nugent – was always there to cover other inadequacies and gave Cuthbert assurance. Strong with his headers and clearances snapping up ball early which was key.

IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

County started fairly well, they were compact and worked hard to contain early threat and with better use of the ball final third they may have been ahead before the sending off. Despite the advantage, County never really had any firm control of this game and lacked leadership especially in the centre of the park to assert any pattern and go and take the three points on offer. Aside from the glut of chances County had, they was not enough hunger or desire to get the ball and County did not match Stevenage endeavour second half. County were slow moving the ball in contrast to how Forest Green used the extra man against them on Boxing Day. After Forbes was substituted, the move to put Franks right back in his place also set County back. Ultimately, that provided costly with the goal coming from weak defending that side and the lack of marking on the corner. The transfer window shopping in January is now vital for progression as you feel County are stale and need some new impetus with an enforcer in central midfield key and a solid right sided defender looking more important for balance and assurance. County will ideally need to get wheeling and dealing done by the Crewe league game a week Saturday if not before. Next up is the FA Cup match home against an inform Leicester City side who depending on their starting line-up will carry threat in behind through the pace of Vardy and set pieces delivery to Maguire back post. However, they have been made dependant and made to tick in midfield with Albrighton and Maddison key to their transition going forward.