Luton Town 3-0 County
Newport County AFC suffered their first defeat in nine games at the hands of Luton Town at Kenilworth Road on Saturday afternoon. Goals from Wilkinson, Rooney and Howells sealed a 3-0 victory for the Hatters.
Luton came out the blocks in the first half and tested Jamie Stephens early on, Stephens saving at his near post and pushing away for a corner. But just moments later the deadlock was broken, Luton's Wilkinson put the ball home from the resulting corner to give Luton a 1-0 lead with four minutes on the clock.
County looked to bounce straight back, Yan Klukowski's effort was deflected away for a corner to County which was eventually cleared by the Hatters defence. Then came the first talking point of the half as Lee Minshull's header hit the cross bar and bounced down onto the line, County players were claiming a goal, but referee Darren Drysdale waved away the claims.
Goalscorer Wilkinson was involved in the next talking point as he brought down Lee Minshull to the ground with claims from County fans and players that Wilkinson could have been sent off, following a long talking to for Wilkinson, play continued.
The game then continued to flare up as challenges went in, Hatters captain McNulty receiving a booking for making sure Shaun Jeffers could read the advertising boards close up. The resulting free kick saw Jeffers involved again at the far post, his header was saved by keeper Mark Tyler.
Shaun Jeffers was involved once more but couldn't connect with his effort as the ball fell safely into the hands of Tyler. Into stoppage time at the end of the first half and Ismail Yakubu was alert to ensure it went into the break 1-0, a looping ball heading towards goal was calmly cleared away and up field by Yakubu.
HALF TIME: Luton Town 1-0 Newport County
Into the second half and the first substitution of the game came in the form of referee Darren Drysdale pulling up with a calf injury at the end of the first half as linesman replaced referee.
With the half just six minutes old Luke Rooney doubled the advantage as the ball evaded the County defence to find Rooney who put home to make it 2-0. Just before the hour mark County made their first substitution as Adam Chapman replaced Max Porter, followed shortly by the return from injury of Rene Howe who replaced Lee Minshull on 65 minutes.
Jamie Stephens saved well, holding onto the ball with Luton players closing in, Stephens clearance set up a counter attack with Rene Howe heading just over at the other end of the ground. Tyler was there to save again on 73 minutes, Shaun Jeffers shot from distance was safely gathered by the Hatters keeper.
It started to look like one of those days for County as Tyler again saved from Chris Zebroski's close range header, tipping over the bar. Ismail Yakubu was next to try his luck as the ball fell to him in the box but his shot was saved and cleared to safety. Tyler, who was voted man of the match by the home crowd saved again just moments later, Chris Zebroski's shot was pushed away and cleared once more.
With two minutes remaining Jamie Stephens saved from a one on one with Mark Cullen, County's defence clearing away from danger. But with the last kick of the game Luton's Jake Howells sealed the points for Luton as he finished into the bottom corner to make it 3-0.
As the referee blew the final whistle on a frustrating day for County, who will look to bounce back at home to Plymouth Argyle on Boxing Day.
FULL TIME: Luton Town 3-0 Newport County