One of the sunniest and warmest days of the football season in Newport saw County face Dagenham and Redbridge with every game becoming crucial towards the end of the season. The Exiles found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoffs at the start of the afternoon, and after a five goal thriller at Rodney Parade, they remained on the wrong side of the playoff line.
The game was one of the best that Newport have played at Rodney Parade in quite a few matches but the first chance of the game came on seven minutes and went to the visitors when they struck a twenty yard shot from just right of centre that rebounded off the stanchion, leaving their supporters thinking that they’d scored the opener. Newport hit straight back however when Ryan Jackson drilled in a cross from the right hand side just a minute later which Yan Klukowski was able to flick on with the outside of his boot through a crowd of bodies and just wide of the far post. County continued to press their opponents and after only ten minutes of the game David Tutonda managed to take it round Mark Cousins in the Dagenham goal, only to slightly over hit his touch and the angle proved too fine for him to find the net.
The game then slowed down in terms of the chances created. Both sides content to pass the ball around the pitch and both tried a more patient build up in comparison to the direct approach of the first quarter of an hour. Dagenham and Redbridge pulled off a sublime move consisting of several one touch passes, only for the final through ball to be played a split second too late and the on running striker was offside.
Newport then showed a brief spell of excellence when Ryan Jackson fired a low ball into the middle of the penalty area which Klukowski touched towards goal only for it to be deflected inches past the right hand post with the keeper beaten. County continued to run most of their attacks through Ryan Jackson on the right wing, Miles Storey partnering with him well to cause the visitors problems in their attempt to break the deadlock but they were unsuccessful in the first half and at the break with other scores around the country going Newport’s way, it remained scoreless at Rodney Parade.
HALF TIME: NEWPORT COUNTY 0-0 DAGENHAM AND REDBRIDGE
County started the second half very strongly and after only three minutes Tutonda brilliantly stole the ball from the Dagenham midfielder on half way, then managed to keep the ball in play as he hurtled towards the penalty area beating two players in the process, then hitting a tight angled shot just over the bar to much applause from the crowd.
Newport had the best of the second half chances with the majority of the possession. The next opportunity came again down the right hand side from Ryan Jackson who outpaced his defender down the wing and got into the penalty area, pulling a ball back for Aaron O’Connor to fire towards the roof of the goal, only to be denied by a brilliant finger tipped save by Cousins, his slight deflection just enough to tip the ball onto the bar. Sandell also saw his eighteen yard right footed shot tipped over the bar by Cousins after 65 minutes, the visiting goalkeeper doing his best to keep County at bay.
With just fifteen minutes of normal time to be played there were still no goals in the contest, but that was soon about to change. Ryan Jackson committed a foul just outside the Newport penalty area and the resulting in-swinging freekick from the left hand side was headed home off the underside of the bar by Ashley Hemmings to give the visitors the lead. Dagenham than doubled their lead with just ten minutes to go when Christian Doidge was left all alone in the penalty area, and he was able to slot a right footed shot under Joe Day.
Newport’s playoff hopes were slipping away by the minute unless they could get something from the contest and throughout the remainder of the game they continued to push for an equaliser. Dagenham’s keeper again came to the rescue when Sandell fired towards goal following a Newport corner which had left the ball bobbling around in the penalty area with just five minutes to go.
Then, with just three minutes of normal time to play, the visitors put the game to bed when substitute Alex Jakubiak ran straight through the Newport defence and placed a left footed shot past Joe Day and into the corner of the net for Dagenham’s third. Newport looked dejected and it appeared as though they were going to lose yet another game at home to sides lower down the league than themselves. David Tutonda had something to say about that though and almost immediately from kick off, ran at the Dagenham goal going past five players in the process, into the penalty area and under the left arm of Cousins to bring the arrears to two goals.
With four minutes of added time to be played Newport continued to press the Dagenham goal and managed to score a second when Aaron O’Connor turned away from his marker and hit a shot across the face of goal into the left corner of the net to put County only a goal down with moments remaining. Unfortunately they were unable to retrieve the ball from their opponents in the short time that remained and still found themselves a goal down when referee Andy Woolmer blew for full time.
Despite a defeat for Plymouth, Newport are still three points outside the playoff places and with only two games to go, the rely on both Plymouth and Luton failing to win both of their final two games to secure the final playoff spot due to County’s vastly inferior goal difference. Newport also must win at York next week to stand a chance, and their fate will be out of their hands on the final day against Oxford United.
FULL TIME: NEWPORT COUNTY 2-3 DAGENHAM AND REDBRIDGE
Newport County: Day, Jackson, Poole, Feely, Sandell, Tutonda, Chapman (Parker 82’), Byrne, Klukowski (Patten 91’), O’Connor, Storey (Collins 88’)
Unused Substitutes: Stephens, Jeffers, Flynn, Owen-Evans
Scorers: Tutonda 90+2’, O’Connor 90+4’
Dagenham and Redbridge: Cousins, Partridge, Doe, Gayle, Widdowson, Howell (Jakubiak 26’), Raymond (Doidge 76’), Ogogo, Bougard, Hemmings (Chambers 87’), Cureton
Unused Substitutes: Moore, Yusuff, Connors, Jones
Scorers: Hemmings 78’, Doidge 81’, Jakubiak 88’
Referee: Andy Woolmer