County go 3rd with a win against Pompey
Newport went into the game knowing a win would see them in the automatic promotion places. Goalkeeper Joe Day would once again start in goal after his signing earlier in the month as the Exiles welcomed the south coast visitors with their new signing Matt Tubbs to a blustery Rodney Parade.
Newport began the game the better side with captain Andy Sandell heading just wide of the back post following a Shaun Jeffers cross from the right touchline. As the half went on Portsmouth began to work their way into the game and after a quarter of an hour Ryan Taylor ran the ball from the half way line around several Newport players before his shot was eventually blocked without troubling Day in the Exiles goal.
County came straight back at Portsmouth and just a couple of minutes later following a brilliant passing section involving most of the side, Adam Chapman saw his effort slice wide of Jones in the Portsmouth goal. Moments later Shaun Jeffers had a moment of excellence down the right wing beating several blue shirts before cutting in onto his left foot and firing a shot towards the top left corner of the goal from 20 yards out, although his effort failed to hit the target.
An even first half with chances for both sides, Portsmouth’s best of the half came after 25 minutes from Ryan Taylor again when he ran along the edge of the penalty area before cutting inside and hitting a shot that was comfortably gathered by Joe Day. Aaron O’Connor had the best chance of the half just before the break when he forced a great save from Paul Jones diving away to his right to parry the ball away from the far post and out to safety. Overall it was Newport who looked the better side but with goal eluding both sides at the break.
HALF TIME: NEWPORT COUNTY AFC 0 – 0 PORTSMOUTH
County came out of the half time break the stronger of the two sides, with numerous chances being created in the first five minutes from the restart. Andy Sandell’s header at the back post from a diagonal cross was well saved down low to Jones’ right. This led to a string of corners which County were unlucky to capitalise on. They kept the pressure on Portsmouth though and just before the hour mark, they strung together a series of passes which led to a looping head from O’Connor, just over the bar.
Portsmouth were not going to be pushed around that easily however and come straight back at the Exiles with a few chances of their own, the best of which came in a goal mouth scramble on the hour which Newport eventually managed to clear.
The pivotal moment game on 67 minutes. Newport built the play up on the left hand side of the field and when Mark Byrne cut inside and drilled one into the bottom corner of the net, County had the lead in the game. This caused outrage in the Portsmouth camp due to the linesman flagging for offside after what he believed was a touch from Aaron O’Connor, however the referee discussed this with him and decided that as O’Connor had not touched the ball, the goal should stand.
Portsmouth then hit Newport with almost constant pressure for the last 20 minutes of the game trying to find an equaliser. They were unlucky not to do so but some brilliant goalkeeping from Joe Day and superb team defending, it was County who were able to claim all three points, the final whistle sparking ecstasy in the stands, and one of the big challenges dealt with.
Newport climb into the automatic promotion places, away games at Cambridge United and Northampton Town to come before they are back at Rodney Parade for a promotion six pointer against Shrewsbury Town in three weeks time.
FULL TIME: NEWPORT COUNTY AFC 1 – 0 PORTSMOUTH