Newport County v Tranmere Rovers

Saturday 6th April 2019   k.o 3:00pm

Sky Bet Football League Two


Report from Mark Vickery at Rodney Parade


Newport County 0

Tranmere Rovers 0


Attendance: 3,170



Newport County        WLLWLWLLWW

Tranmere Rovers      dWWWWWWWWL



Even-steven frustrating draw



Aside from the midweek defeat at Oldham, Tranmere have been on very good run. County will need to marshal League Two top scorer Norwood and use ball wisely.

Sunny spells, mild and light breeze. Pitch was in decent better condition.

Defended well from open play, squashing threats, patient and probing with the ball but lacked cutting edge.


County made just the one change with Harry McKirdy replaced by Keanu Marsh-Brown in a front three with them retaining their 4-3-3 formation. Padraig Amond was not fully recovered although he was on a strong looking bench. County made the more assertive start getting the ball down well and looking to play with Marsh-Brown and Kennedy probing final third. Tranmere were content to sit in absorb the early pressure with a five man midfield and look for opportunities to play out from deep with Norwood playing off the last man. The midfield exchanges were scrappy and the stand in referee set an early precedent booking Labadie for his first honest challenge catching Banks late with a tackle just outside the centre circle. County continued to be positive with the ball at their feet with Butler doing well to support in tandem with Kennedy left flank. On 10 minutes, County worked a decent move with Matt doing well to hold off a challenge by Tranmere centre back Monthe and feed Kennedy. He delivered a decent cross from a tight position which went a bit too deep and just beyond Willmott who was well positioned. Tranmere set their stall out to sit in and break quickly with men flooding forward from midfield to support Norwood. On 13 minutes, Tranmere worked a decent move right side of the pitch with Norwood supplying a pass out wide for Caprice who won a corner. From the right side, Morris whipped in a decent delivery into the six yard box which Ellis headed against the bar and County managed to hook the loose ball to safety. The game lacked cohesion being interrupted by several cynical fouls and County were frustrated by some decisions with players falling down rather timidly on times. On 25 minutes, County had a free kick in a decent position right side and Willmott supplied a decent delivery back post with O’Brien denied by a brave header by Ellis. County made efforts to pick up the tempo of the game with Tranmere happy to slow the pace and infringe at will. County were more effective when they kept the ball shifting and went close on 28 minutes from a move left side instigated by Butler who drove down the left channel with a strong run. Despite being forced inside he dinked a good cross to the right side of the area pinpointing Willmott but the snapshot from 14 yards was blocked by Ridehalgh. Another bright move by County on the half hour saw Butler again penetrate but this time he got outside right back Caprice. His cross into the box went deep and Willmott anticipated well with a header from 8 yards which the keeper Davies claimed in the right corner. Tranmere persisted with the tact of playing direct with Perkins picking up the bits and pieces to allow a quick turnaround. On 32 minutes, Butler as booked somewhat harshly when Norwood span off away from goal down the centre of the pitch. The free kick from 30 yards was directed low but struck the wall allowing County to clear. Tranmere got a little head of steam up with Banks making some bolder runs from deep to support. On 35 minutes, Banks struck an opportunist effort from 25 yards but it was high and wide of the right post. County mixed their play up well using Matt who did his best to hold up under pressure but with little protection and punishment for pulling off the ball, Tranmere were able to continue their effective stifling game and look for the sucker punch. County were coaxed into a couple of free kicks with Tranmere continuing to see the ball early and made the most of anything marginally late to buy free kicks. On 43 minutes, County were given a warning when Banks dropped in a free kick deep to pinpoint late run of Monthe back post but the ball drifted harmlessly out for a free kick. The game remained scrappy and tight in the middle with Sheehan doing his best to craft some openings on the stroke of half time finding Marsh-Brown in space but the opportunity was often lost with County slow to react or get a shot in.

County started the second half on the front foot forcing play up the pitch but were nearly caught out on 47 minutes. Some indecision between Poole and Willmott saw Smith steal possession and carry his run down the left flank but his ambitious volley from the left side of the area was well wide and high of the left post. County were keen to use their right flank and Poole was bold carrying a strong forward on 50 minutes only to be crudely checked by Ridehalgh on the right wing and Tranmere got their first booking. Butler dinked over the corner from right side which Matt glanced on well from inside the six yard box but Davies read it well low down. Tranmere had another player in the book on 55 minutes when Norwood caught Demetriou late tracking back to prevent a clearance. Tranmere made a tactical change on 58 minutes put former Crewe striker Chris Dagnall replacing Johnny Smith. County made a change soon after with Azeez replacing Marsh-Brown. On 62 minutes, Tranmere had a corner on the left flank which appeared to brush the right post with County allowing the ball to drop dangerously. Tranmere had a more sustained spell with Banks again causing some anxiety burrowing down the middle and Poole checked his run to get himself a booking. County were forced back somewhat and keen to play direct when the chance was presented. On 67 minutes, County did well to stifle a Tranmere move across the face of the area. Labadie released a pass forward to pick out Matt who was held down by Banks who was booked. County made another change on 70 minutes with Dolan replacing Kennedy. County appeared to keep their formation with Dolan dropping into midfield and Willmott more licence to push on final third. Tranmere created possibly their best move of the game on 72 minutes when a neat exchange in the middle saw Morris dink a pass in behind for Norwood. He latched onto the ball but could only poke it out for goal kick with Day doing well to rush him into the effort and despite going down over Day, the referee ignored calls for a penalty. County kept plugging away with Azeez giving them a different dimension up front with some powerful runs. On 73 minutes, Tranmere were in trouble with Azeez breaking forward and with Monthe covering back he was left exposed and forced into a late tackled which saw him booked. County were increasingly menacing on the break but they couldn’t quite find the quality with their crosses. On 77 minutes, a cross from left side by Demetriou was tantalising for Willmott at the back post but he put a difficult half volley well over the bar from 10 yards. County made their final change on 83 minutes when Amond replaced Wilmott. Tranmere were keen to use Dagnall who had craft and guile in the final third which kept the County defence worked. On 85 minutes, O’Brien was booked for a clumsy tackle on Dagnall who had done well to force away from danger. Tranmere continued to persist with their frustrating tactics and buying fouls cheaply. On 87 minutes, Azeez did well to force left back Ridehalgh into a rash clearance near the left channel sliding in but the referee awarded a free kick for very little contact, if any. County won a free kick in a threatening position right side on 88 minutes with Monthe again checking Matt and he was lucky to escape a red card. Dolan swept over an excellent free kick into the box which Matt glanced on well to find Sheehan. He seized the ball and struck a low effort from 6 yards which should have been buried but the keeper pushed away with a reflex save and Labadie poked the rebound home but was adjusted to be coming back from an offside position. Despite 5 minutes of injury time, neither side could prise an opening with the best County opportunity coming from a strong run by Labadie right side who was cynically checked by Perkins who escaped with no booking incensing the home fans.

Day (6) – kicked well under pressure, distributed well out wide setting up some good breaks, handled well but was a little uncertain on some set pieces not asserting himself.  

Poole (7) –  had to keep his focus defending and coped well despite losing out on a couple of tackles. Better second half timing his runs forward to support and provide crosses.  

Butler (7) –  at the heart of the best moves first half. He made things happen and provided fair quota of crosses. Saw less of him second half and forced back by Caprice.

O’Brien (7) –  sold game, dominated in the air and did well when he had to turn back getting his clearances to safety. So close to his second County goal today and it can’t be far off

Demetriou (8) –  dealt with Norwood superbly despite being on the end several untidy challenges which went unpunished. Kept his discipline to keep driving the team late on.

Labadie (7) – was always going to be booked by the referee today and did well to stay on the pitch. Made some good decisions timing tackles after well and unlucky not to score.

Willmott (6) – was well marked by the left back and even when he beat him Perkins was covering his runs. Provided some better penetration second half but faded early.

Sheehan (6) – did his best to manufacture space in tight midfield and clever touches to link with other players not just helping ball on. Needs to get more shots in and around the box

Marsh-Brown (5) – were options from him down the middle first half but either didn’t seem aware of the gaps and was little slow to react. Got few shots in failing to work keeper.

Matt (7) – did well in aerial duals despite being pulled and grabbed back. Given little protection, went close with a few headers and had a couple of one on one situations but denied

Kennedy (6) – had some good spells in the game especially first half, showing good feet to work opening but kept at arms-length. needs to build on his work ethic and sharpness



Strengths –
they were tight defending full backs pressed play well and centre backs robust. Created some good moves in transition from deep.

Weaknesses – lacked cohesion, when turned always vulnerable but escaped by conceding untidy free kicks. Over-reliant on long ball and bought many free kicks going down cheap

Opportunities –  they sat in first half looking for sucker punch. Set pieces gave County the most problems. More positive final third after half time but very stop start.
Threats –
Norwood played the line well winning some clever free kicks. Banks shots from distance and late runs inside area. Monthe and Ellis headers set pieces.

A Young (4) – frustrated both teams, some bookings were totally unnecessary and then had poor interpretation missing all the off the ball pulling and clambering.  

Micky Demetriou – was in no mood for any charity today. Had to contend with much gamesmanship and several late tackles but dominated aerial duals and let little goalside.


County struggled to build momentum up today and what was a very stop start game and you have to give Tranmere Rovers some credit for the defensive mettle and playing a very erratic referee well despite the theatrics with brazen men going down meekly. In adversity, County kept their discipline well despite not getting some of the calls, matching their opponents pretty much in all the stats, but lacked dynamism and creativity in the final third. County will be disappointed with their quality and the final crosses were somewhat wayward with set pieces impaired by indecision which allowed Tranmere off the hook. County manager Mike Flynn will be pleased with certain aspects of the performance but results are key now with County looking for 7 points from the series of three games. County will need to get the balance between attack and defending right in the next few games and not allowed themselves to be countered on by sides as that is what they will be facing. Next up is Swindon Town at home who are in a similar position to County hoping to go on a late rally towards the play offs. Swindon have an effective front three with Doughty strong carrying the ball up the pitch and Woolery will make runs in behind using his pace. County will need to marshal that threat and not allow them to settle as the key is likely to be in midfield who comes out on top.