Newport County AFC v Oxford United
Newport County AFC secured a fine 3-2 victory over Oxford United as they came from behind for the first time this season at a raucous Rodney Parade.
County made 3 changes from the team that lost 3-0 at Hartlepool last weekend. Ismail Yakubu came in for the suspended Harry Worley and Byron Anthony also made a welcome return for the first time since his serious injury sustained at Brighton last August in the Capital One Cup, replacing Tom
The final change to the starting line-up also saw Shaun Jeffers make way for Chris Zebroski who came on for the last 15 minutes at Hartlepool, seeing his first action since dislocating his knee at Braintree in the FA Cup last November.
It was the home side that started brightly and Zebroski was in the thick of the action causing the Oxford United defence into action with 2 efforts in the first 7 minutes. Firstly, from a flick on by strike partner Rene Howe and then 2 minutes later a deep cross from Chapman fell to the former Oxford forward but his shot was straight at The U’s keeper Clarke.
On 13 minutes Oxford United took the lead with their first attack when a long ball out of defence reached Dave Kitson and he picked out James Constable at the far post who then volleyed past Parish. This was harsh on County who were the dominant team until that point.
Newport County AFC continued to apply the pressure and once again Burge was becoming dominant in midfield ably assisted by Chapman and Minshull. It was becoming a battle in the middle of the park with former County man Danny Rose firing a free kick from a dangerous position into the grateful arms of Parish on the half hour mark. At the other end Minshull made a determined run into the box only to be halted by the Oxford defence, however, the referee waved away the penalty appeals.
County were making inroads down the Oxford left as Pipe was ably supporting the front two with several surging runs through the sand near the Bisley stand. On the stroke of half time County equalised as Sandell drove down the left and cut the ball back which Oxford could only partially clear to Minshull on the edge of the area. His side foot placed shot took a slight deflection of Rene Howe before nestling in the corner of the net and the forward, on his home debut, was in no doubt as to the fact that it was his goal!
Half Time 1-1
Oxford United made one change at half time with Potter replacing Rose as Oxford looked for a more attacking formation. It was Newport County AFC however who were dominant from the outset and Robbie Willmott put a 20 yard curling effort just wide after 50 minutes.
Dave Kitson then came off for Ryan Williams for Oxford on 57 minutes as County continued to press forward with Chapman going close with a long range effort. Pipe then made a darting run down the right and his deflected cross was instinctively hooked just wide from Howe as the pressure started to tell on the away side.
On 69 minutes Howe was fouled on the right hand edge of the Oxford area and from the resultant free kick Ryan Burge curled a superb left footed effort over the despairing dive of Clarke into the far corner to give County the lead.
This raised the decibel levels even further at Rodney Parade as the Amber Army showed their appreciation and County responded with Zebroski and Howe linking up well to pin Oxford back. Connolly came on for Bevans after 77 minutes as Oxford Manager Mickey Lewis tried to bolster his attack.
On 81 minutes a mix up between Oxford captain Mullins and keeper Clarke left Zebroski with an open goal to give the home side a 2 goal cushion and looked to have secured the points. However, 2 minutes later Constable turned smartly in the area and drilled a right foot shot towards the near post that Parish did well to turn around the post to show that Oxford were still in the game.
Zebroski was replaced by Jeffers on 84 minutes to a standing ovation from the County faithful and then Chapman was taken off for Porter as the home side aimed to hold firm in the final minutes. Oxford’s substitute Potter then hooked in from six yards out with 2 minutes to go as the game ebbed and flowed.
With the referee signalling 5 minutes of added time Howe, Burge, Jeffers and Porter worked well to retain possession near Oxford’s goal-line as County safely saw out the last few minutes to claim a well-deserved victory in which every player worked for the team and showed the true spirit of the club.
Final Score 3-2
County: Parish, Pipe (Capt.), Yakubu, Chapman (Porter 85), Minshull, Zebroski (Jeffers), Willmott, Sandell, Burge, Anthony, Howe
Subs: Thompson, Porter, Crow, Jeffers, Jackson, Naylor, Jolley
Goals: Howe (45), Burge (70), Zebroski (81)
Booked: Chapman, Minshull, Howe
Oxford: Clarke, Newey, Kitson, Constable, Smalley, Hunt, Rose, Mullins (Capt.), Wroe, Bevans, Ruffel
Subs: Henly, Potter, Williams, Connolly, Davies, Long, Ashby
Goals: Constable (10), Potter (88)
Booked: Newey, Wroe
Referee: Oliver Langford
Att: 3,757 (Away 523)