MATCH REPORT: Oxford United 1-0 County
Newport County AFC fell to their first League defeat in eight games on Saturday afternoon after coming unstuck against 10 man Oxford United. Michael Collins goal five minutes before half time was enough to seal the three points for Oxford, despite Tyrone Barnett's ten minute double booking that seen him sent off.
Oxford started brightly and put some early pressure on the County goal, but it was creativity from Adam Chapman that created panic in The U's box as his pass found Aaron O'Connor, the ball being nicked off the toes of County's number 10 before he could get the shot away. Mark Byrne forced Ryan Clarke into a save on the 12th minute as he shot from the edge of box.
Just seconds later Oxford's Tyrone Barnett found himself through one on one with Joe Day, who was quick to come out and force Barnett wide of the goal. Yan Klukowski's shot inside the area tested Clarke but the U's keeper got down well to save. County keeper Joe Day was called into action from Brian Howard's free kick, the ball falling safely into the hands of Day.
Referee Sheldrake then produced yellow cards for both Joe Pigott and Mark Byrne, Byrne picking up his fifth caution of the season that will see him miss next weekend's clash with York at Rodney Parade.
Oxford started to pile on the pressure, Joe Day pulled off a save from close range just seconds before Danny Hylton put his shot over the bar from inside the six yard box. Day was quick off the mark five minutes later as he saved at the feet of Barnett, the County keeper wasn't to know it was offside and pulled off a magnificent save to deny the Oxford striker. With five minutes to go before half time Oxford broke the deadlock as Michael Collins free kick missed everybody in the County area to creep in at the far post.
Tyron Barnett picked up his first and second bookings in the first ten minutes of the second half, leaving Oxford to play the remainder of the game with ten men. Just minutes later on loan Swans youngster James Loveridge came on for his debut. County looked to capitalise on their man advantage and Robbie Willmott's volley was blocked and cleared to safety by The U's defence.
Andy Sandell picked up a caution, his fifth of the season. The next chance fell to on loan Joe Pigott, who managed to round keeper Clarke but his off balance shot went agonizingly close to leveling the score. The yellow card count kept rising for both sides as Darren Jones was booked with 15 minutes remaining. County found themselves with a free kick in a dangerous position, Mark Byrne stepped up but his effort was cleared by the Oxford wall. Byrne went close with 7 minutes remaining as his shot flashed past the upright and out for a goal kick.
With the fourth official signalling six minutes of added time, Oxford continued to frustrate County as they looked to push for an equaliser., but Oxford held strong to deny County. Manager Justin Edinburgh commented "to lose to a flukey goal like we did, we're disappointed and it obviously puts a dampener on the anniversary. But it's not about me, it's about the team and we've lost our unbeaten run which is disappointing. It's always easy to say you can go and beat 10 men, but nine times out of 10 that doesn't happen, especially when a team is holding on to the lead."