Cheltenham Town (Home)Newport County AFC fell to only their third home league defeat of the season against a stubborn Cheltenham Town on a rare dry day in the city! The Robins scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half from Ashley Vincent and absorbed pressure from the home side as the match wore on to claim their first win of 2014.
Justin Edinburgh made 1 change to the side that beat Oxford United in the week with David Pipe being replaced by Andrew Hughes. Christian Jolley was unable to make the bench as he is recovering from a bug, although the striker should be back in contention when his former club AFC Wimbledon visit Rodney Parade on Tuesday.
Byron Anthony captained the team for the first time since the Capital One Cup match against Brighton & Hove Albion back in August as County lined up with a 3-5-2 formation with Hughes and Yakubu accompanying Anthony at the back and Sandell pushing onto a left wing back role with Robbie Willmott switching to the right flank.
County started brightly and forced a succession of corners as Cheltenham Town were pegged back. On 10 minutes Hughes connected with one of these corners but his header went over the bar. A minute later Zebroski headed narrowly wide from Willmott's in swinging corner from the left.
Willmott was heavily involved in the opening quarter of the game and he forced Cheltenham's keeper Brown into a smart save from a free kick on the edge of the area. Chapman and Howe then linked up well a minute later on the edge of the area before the former Burton striker shot straight at Brown.
Cheltenham Town were relying on the counter attack and after forcing their first corner on 21 minutes they took the lead 2 minutes later as McGlashan showed his pace down the right and his low cross was eventually turned in by Ashley Vincent from 6 yards out sending the away following into raptures.
This also saw the home fans raise the volume as the atmosphere turned up a notch and County responded with the tireless Zebroski causing problems for the Cheltenham back-line. On 38 minutes the former Cheltenham player cut in from the left and curled a low right footed shot towards the far post that went just wide with Howe inches away from getting an important touch.
Half Time 0-1
Neither manager made any changes at the break and the second half started in a similar fashion with County on the front foot. On 49 minutes the home fans got excited as Howe was fouled in a similar position to where Burge scored his wonder free-kick against Oxford the previous Tuesday. However, on this occasion the midfielder's effort went straight into the grateful arms of Brown.
Cheltenham made a rare forage forward as the awkward Harrison tested Parish from long range but it was comfortable save for the on-loan Bristol City keeper. On the hour Edinburgh made 2 changes bringing on Porter and Crow for Minshull and Chapman as the County were committed to attack with 3 strikers now on the pitch. Mark Yates responded by bringing on Jombati for goalscorer Vincent on 65 minutes as the game began to open up.
Jeffers then came on for Howe on 75 minutes and was immediately in the action with a determined run down the right wing but his cut back was cleared away at the second attempt from inside the six yard box by captain Elliott. Despite concerted pressure in the final third of the pitch for the last 10 minutes by County, the goal would not come and Cheltenham held on to rise up to 15th in the table as Newport County AFC remain in 8th place with a chance to get back on a winning run against AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday in the third of a 5 match home run.
County: Parish, Hughes, Yakubu, Chapman (Crow 60), Minshull (Porter 60), Zebroski, Willmott, Sandell, Burge, Anthony (Capt.), Howe (Jeffers 78)
Subs: Thompson, Pipe, Porter, Crow, Jeffers, Jackson, Naylor
Booked: Hughes, Burge
Cheltenham Town: Brown, Elliott (Capt.), Deering, Harrison, Gornell, McGlashan, Richards, Braham-Barrett, Ihiewke, Brundel, Vincent (Jombati 65)
Subs: Taylor, Cureton, Roberts, Williams, Kotwica, Lucas, Jombati
Referee: Steve Rushton