Match Report : 24/08/2013

Injury-hit County snatched their first away point of the campaign from a tough encounter at Dagenham & Redbridge in a classic game of two halves.  Dominant during the first period, the Exiles should really have added to the slender lead afforded to them by Chris Zebroski’s assured finish; alas they failed to do so and paid the ultimate price, as a resurgent home side drew level during a strong second-half showing in which only Andrew Hughes’ dramatic, late goal-line clearance prevented them from winning.

The hosts had made a bright start at a rain-sodden Victoria Road, Rhys Murphy and Josh Scott both warming the hands of Lenny Pidgeley early doors.  From that point on, Newport began to take control of the game and always looked threatening going forward.  Christian Jolley should have scored on 14 minutes after strike partner Zebroski had cleverly created the opening; sadly for the vociferous 277 away followers, he uncharacteristically failed to beat Chris Lewington in the Daggers’ goal.  Zebroski then fired over himself after Jolley had returned the favour, before the visitors struck third time lucky on 25 minutes.

A determined Jolley won the ball back superbly before finding Adam Chapman in space; he in turn picked out Zebroski who, cutting in expertly from the right beat two men before calmly passing the ball into the bottom corner of Lewington’s net.  A very sweet strike indeed and buoyant County looked increasingly likely to add to it amidst the now heavy downpour; Lee Minshull spurning just one of three good chances that inevitably followed.

The Exiles began the second period in offensive mode too; Andy Sandell might have doubled the advantage on 49 minutes, before Zebroski brought another save out of Lewington.  The Daggers had made a double change at the break and slowly but surely, began to exert themselves as County suddenly found themselves on the back foot.  Substitute Abu Ogogo was close to equalising on 57 minutes, his effort rolling just the wrong side of the upright.  Two minutes later, he was in the thick of it once more and on this occasion, Newport wouldn’t be quite so fortunate; Ogogo finishing off Gavin Hoyte’s cross to earn the Daggers parity.

The pendulum had now swung full circle as the home side pressed hard for a winner, with County now the side desperately hanging in there.  Pidgeley saved well from Zavon Hines, whilst Brian Woodall fired narrowly over.  Minshull might have nicked it for County at the death, sadly his header flew the wrong side of the post; before one last-ditch home raid saw Hughes superbly clear his line after Afolabi Obafemi looked to have stolen a winner.

“The way we started the first-half and dominated, I thought we were worthy of an extra goal” explained boss Justin Edinburgh afterwards; “1-0 is a very precarious scoreline.  I thought we even started the second-half well, we were on the front foot and there is an element of luck about their goal; but we are quickly learning about the need to be more clinical.  Our failure to get the goals when we’ve been dominant has cost us four points.  We made too many unforced errors in the second-half and sat too deep; but it’s a very good point and if somebody had offered us just one defeat in our first five games, we’d have certainly taken it.”