Wrexham v Newport County

Saturday 1st December 2018   k.o 8:00pm

FA Cup 2nd Round

 

Report from Mark Vickery at the Racecourse

 

Wrexham 0 

Newport County 0

 

Attendance: 5,295

 

Form:

Newport County        DWLDLWWWLW

Wrexham                   WWDWDWWDLd  

 

 

County forced to a replay

 

 

PRE-MATCH THOUGHTS
Wrexham have been rocked by news Sam Ricketts being lined up as new Shrewsbury but he is not attending so expect them to be motivated so key County match their work ethic..

CONDITIONS
Mild, cloudy with keen breeze. Pitch was decent condition but perhaps a little long in parts

SUMMING UP OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Quite reserved and sat back for large parts, defended resolutely but never really got relaxed and playing.

TURNING POINT
None to note.

THE MATCH
County retained the same starting side that beat Northampton Town mid-week but were forced back in the early stages with Wrexham playing out from the back and targeting some balls in behind to test the alertness of the County defence. Wrexham were keen to utilise the right flank with ex-Coventry City striker making some determined runs on the right flank. County struggled to settle opting for long balls to use Matt and Amond which the Wrexham defence marshalled well. On 12 minutes, County worked a more efficient move from centre to the right flank with Sheehan finding Pipe in space. He won the ball ahead of left back Carrington and back flicked a neat pass for Bakinson on the right side of the area. From the byline he cut back and excellent low cross into the six yard which Matt appeared to get a toe on but his effort under pressure from Pearson flashed just wide of the left post. Wrexham were keen to play patiently from back using ex-Hartlepool defensive midfielder Brad Walker to coordinate moves from deep. Wrexham persisted with the right flank with Rutherford prepared to drift out wide to pick holes behind Butler. On 16 minutes, Rutherford did well on the right side of the box to pick out the run of Fleetwood loanee Bobby Grant but his shot was from 25 yards went over the bar. County made efforts to pick up their work-rate in the final third with Amond doing well to press some mistakes between Pearson and Carrington but some after thought by County allowed Wrexham to recover. County had a decent spell midway through the half  with some better cohesion but were struggling to lay a glove on Wrexham. Indecision continued to impair County especially in midfield and Bakinson was caught in possession on 23 minutes by Walker. He drove forward down the middle with too much ease but his ambitious effort from 30 yards was blasted well over the bar. County were more threatening when they attacked out wide and were close to edging ahead on 28 minutes. Butler did well to support a move on the left side of the area and drive to the byline and his low cross fizzed through the six yard box just beyond a touch by the outstretched leg of Matt who ghosted in between Lawlor and Pearson. Wrexham had a good spell on 35 minutes forcing County to defend deeper with Summerfield threading a good pass for Beavon. He carried a tricky run left side near the byline and cut back a decent ball into the box and with County struggling to clear effectively, Wright teed up a first time snapshot for Grant who blasted a shot from 10 yard which Day parried well to safety. Wrexham were keen to play direct on times with Grant acting as a battering ram and he caught Franks late on 37 minutes in an aerial challenge but there was no ticking off by the referee. Franks received treatment but able to resume and County somewhat aggrieved by the decision set about retribution with Sheehan catching Grant late in tackle from behind moments later. Sheehan then most predictable booking of the season for his indiscretion as the game threatened to degenerate with scrappy challenges on the stroke of half time.

The second half followed a similar pattern with County probing away but continuing to run into dead ends and Wrexham stifling a lot of the direct play into Matt. Wrexham split wide coming out from deep and complimented their passing game with some long balls with the front three of Beavon, Grant and Rutherford contesting across the line. On 50 minutes, another somewhat dubious challenge by Grant went unpunished when he chased down a long ball and trod on the back of Demetriou’s leg. The County defender received treatment but in no mood to leave this pitch and resumed soon after. On 53 minutes, despite his lack in height Beavon put himself between the ball and Franks and found the loose ball sit up invitingly for him left side of the area. He lobbed a decent effort over Day but County had Demetriou tracking back superbly to clear off the line. Beavon continued to be main source of threat with strong runs left side and he saw his snapshot well blocked by Pipe on 55 minutes after a tricky run around the edge of the area. County were forced to play on the break and they slowly started to work a couple of decent situations from the left and right side with Butler and Pipe getting into more advanced positions. On 58 minutes, Butler did well to combine with Crofts left side of the pitch and carry a strong run to the left byline. He cut back a decent cross into the box which Bakinson stole in late to head from 10 yards but his header looped over the bar. On 63 minutes, Wrexham made a change to freshen their midfield with Young replacing Wright. County were more dynamic coming forward and Matt made a strong threatening run down the middle on 66 minutes only to be crudely checked by Walker and he was booked. County came into the game more right side attacking stand in left back Carrington and Pipe got forward into promising position but the final delivery was often short leaving Wrexham untroubled. On 70 minutes, Pipe changed tact attacking the right flank and this time he cut a clever low pass inside for Sheehan but his shot with high and wide of the right post. On 75 minutes, Walker was again bold coming forward through the middle and left untracked by County. He carried his run and blasted a shot from 25 yards which Crofts did well to divert for a corner. County made a much needed change on 75 minutes with Semenyo replacing Matt and Wrexham responded with a defensive change to combat the threat with Jennings replacing Rutherford. Jennings went to his more accustomed left back birth and Carrington into central midfield. On 80 minutes, County had a great chance to forge ahead when they worked a clever move in the left corner with Butler intricate pass finding Sheehan. He his deft cross was inch perfect splitting central defenders Lawlor and Pearson and Semenyo saw his header from 10 yards drop just over the bar. Semenyo was then floored moments later in somewhat suspect challenge by Roberts when he was holding the ball on the left flank. No booking was forthcoming but County had a great chance to steal the game on 85 minutes. Bakinson did well to pick Semenyo on the right side of the box. His run took into another gear and centre back Pearson slipped allowing Semenyo a free run into the box but his shot from 14 yards went straight at the keeper. County made another soon after to freshen up their front line with Beavon replaced by the robust Fondop-Talem. On 86 minutes, O’Brien was booked for an untidy challenge from behind on Fondop-Talem with Wrexham opting for an increasingly direct approach. Wrexham had a decent chance on 90 minutes when they forced County deep and Grant caressed a clever pass to Fondop-Talem in an acute position left side of the area but his shot from 10 yards went into the side netting. County made a change soon after with Harris replacing Amond. Wrexham threw the kitchen sink at County in the six minutes of injury time winning some corners and Pearson saw his header blocked inside the six yard box. County had a couple of good situations on the break with Wrexham pushing players up for set pieces. In the fourth minute of injury Harris was picked out well by Butler left side and was presented a two v two situation but instead of carrying his run directly he checked inside and was tackled by Roberts. Wrexham kept applying pressure forcing County deep but O’Brien was closest for County when a Butler cross near the left byline was headed wide of the left post from 8 yards.

Day (8) –   focussed throughout, showed his strengths as a shot stopper, made a couple of important instinctive saves, kicked and handled well under pressure  

Pipe (7) –  forced deep for much of first half and seemed reluctant to test Carrington. Timed tackles well and offered more influence 2nd half final third but crosses were cut out.

Butler (6) – had some moments first half when he got caught out of position but addressed it after half time timing runs forward and instigated some decent moves.

O’Brien (7) – did well in the aerial duals and track danger. Switched on with long balls pinged from deep and made some important clearances late on.

Demetriou (8) – Wrexham persisted in arrowing balls right side but he was well positioned to sweep and clear effectively. Took knocks for bravery and made vital goalline clearance

Franks (6) – did alright in the aerial but less comfortable dealing with Beavon and managing him into left threatening areas. Had a couple of half chances from set pieces.

Bakinson (5) – lacklustre and got bogged down a bit in some challenges losing ball to Walker. He did offer some influence later on in around box and missed decent headed chance.

Crofts (6) – didn’t carry same verve as in the Northampton game but when he got the ball he used it well. Remained determined and competitive and had a couple of shots blocked.

Sheehan (5) –  inconsistency with work rate and got wrong side of his marker too many occasions. Put in some crosses either side of box but key influence in middle was lacking.

Matt (5) – didn’t get much change out of Pearson on aerial duals. Was too static and when he did peel off dropping deep he made things happen but restricted on chances today.

Amond (6) –  did his best to snap up bit and pieces in and around area but was well marked. Worked hard and made several good runs to the back post which were not picked out.

 

 

SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths –
they were composed passing and despite playing quite a slow game they were accurate and saved energy to chase down balls in behind with front three mobile.

Weaknesses –  centre back were good facing forward but when pressed by pace became anxious. Both full backs were ordinary and never really tested.

Opportunities –  they were patient in possession and used the long ball effectively when invited. Full backs pushed on a little more late on but County were unable to exploit gaps.
Threats –
 Beavon left side and guile on the ball. Grant was robust and Rutherford pace drifted from left to right. Walker was penetrative in the middle and Pearson set piece headers.

OFFICIALS
C Hicks (6) – let several crude indiscretions which were clearly late go unpunished, encouraging backing in, but got the key decisions right


MAN OF THE MATCH
Brad Walker – in Hartlepool side with Amond that got relegated and had a point to prove. Protected in front of defence cutting out threat and burst forward to lift side several times.  

IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

County failed to assert their game allowing Wrexham far too much possession and it was comfortable for them on times with County happy to sit back. The pace of the game was much slower than League Two and this suited the hosts who were composed and accurate with the ball. Wrexham also carried some threat up top with the front three of Beavon, Rutherford and Grant combining well and O’Brien, Franks and Demetriou had the keep their focus and concentration. They did this pretty well, often not getting the rub of the green in decisions and there was more room for County as the game progressed with Wrexham leaving some holes and more vulnerable to pace. County may need to consider changing their tact and personnel for the replay with the midfield not asserting enough control of the game and you feel County need to be more dynamic in transition from defence to attack. County may need to invite a more open game which may coax Wrexham to come out more but they will need to work the corners better and possible employ 4-3-3 and use Semenyo from the offset. Wrexham seemed comfortable dealing with 3-5-2 and it was simple enough for them to chase down balls in the corners when they didn’t want to play through the midfield. County will offer more intensity at Rodney Parade and it will be key not to induce a slow game as this will suit Wrexham who are likely to have a new manager in place possibly for that game. Next up for County is Trophy game in which they can experiment and coax players back from injury before the bread butter of the league returns at Swindon who are struggling for consistency at home and under some pressure with a lot of responsibility on younger players.