Newport County AFC were held to their second successive 0-0 draw at Rodney Parade as Joe Day preserved what could be an important point in a stalemate with Swindon Town.
Day’s save with his face prevented the night’s biggest moment with just over a quarter of an hour to go, meaning both sides were frustrated in their efforts in South Wales.
Twinned with Exeter City’s surprise defeat to Macclesfield Town in Cheshire, the gap on the play-offs has decreased to five points still with that game in hand over the Grecians.
Manager Michael Flynn made one change to the starting side which battled to a resilient point against high-flying Tranmere Rovers on Saturday at Rodney Parade.
Padraig Amond – who came on late last time out against the Birkenhead outfit – was passed fit to start this time around and took the place of Keanu Marsh-Brown in the familiar 4-2-3-1 formation.
Swindon Town manager Richie Wellens named an unchanged side at Rodney Parade which conceded in stoppage time on Saturday to dent their hopes of a play-off place come the end of the campaign.
This was a fixture of maximum importance for both sides in terms of a potential finish in the top-seven, and you could see that in the approach to the game with the two teams fixed on somehow securing all three points.
In the first-half, County shaded things in terms of possession but Swindon had the majority of the chances in a finely poised goalless opening 45 minutes.
All the play was coming down the Bisley stand side – County’s right side and Swindon’s left side respectively – with Robbie Willmott and Kyle Bennett the stand out players on the flanks.
Amond was the first player to get a sighting of goal after just ten minutes following more encouraging work out-wide, but the shot was always rising after the Irishman cut in from the right.
That chance was actually the precursor to a good period of the game for the visiting Robins and Joe Day was certainly a busy man in the middle part of the first-half.
First, Kyle Bennett stung his palms from distance before Theo Robinson blazed over the rebound when he had an empty net to hit, while Keshi Anderson wasn’t too far away with a 45-yard free-kick which needed tipping out for a corner-kick.
The Robins couldn’t come much closer to scoring than when Ali Koiki smacked the crossbar on 22 minutes, although the full-back didn’t know much about it when his cross into the area curled inwards and onto the woodwork.
Anderson looked dangerous when he had possession of the ball – not particularly offering a threat without it in a rather static performance – and on 37 minutes, he skinned four County players but was thwarted by a strong save from Day.
Robbie Willmott should have put County into the dressing rooms ahead five minutes before the interval but he was denied by Luke McCormick, although you couldn’t blame the winger too much with the ball coming to him a bit quickly.
The second-half was another enterprising affair but the chances were this time fewer and further between as both midfields took centre stage at Rodney Parade.
On the hour, County overcommitted at a corner-kick and were almost punished by the visitors. The Robins had a three on two in their favour, but Robinson dallied on the ball too long, meaning the attack broke down and Anderson couldn’t connect to a hopeful cross along the six-yard area.
Still came Swindon and how Day kept the Robins at bay on 73 minutes literally is anyone’s guess after yet another save out of the top drawer.
You can see why he was rightfully rewarded with the award for League Two goalkeeper of the year and I wouldn’t even like to guess how many points he’s saved for County over the years – it would be a near impossible task to work out in any regard.
Anderson sent a free-kick into the penalty area which bobbled about all over the place, eventually it fell to Dion Conroy, but Day got his body in the way and took a stinger to the face but most importantly saved the Exiles.
That turned out to be a monumental save as no further chances were created as the Exiles were again frustrated at Rodney Parade.
Newport County AFC (4-2-3-1): Day, Poole, O’Brien, Demetriou, Butler, Sheehan, Labadie (Crofts 45’), Kennedy (Marsh-Brown 76’), Amond, Willmott, Matt (Azeez 24’)
Subs not used: Pipe, Dolan, Bakinson, McKirdy
Swindon Town (4-2-3-1): McCormick, Knoyle, Conroy (C), Woolfenden, Koiki, Rose (Richards 80’), Carroll (McCourt 90+2), Bennett, Woolery (Doughty 70’), Robinson, Anderson
Subs not used: Henry, Lancashire, Dunne, Broadbent
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Attendance: 3,314 (704 AWAY)
Next up for County: Cambridge United (13th April 2019) AWAY