County 0-1 Shrewsbury
A blustery Rodney Parade was the venue for a top six clash between Newport County and Shrewsbury Town on Saturday afternoon. The visitors knew that a win could see them go top of the table if other results went their way, County on the other hand wanted a win to bounce back from their previous two defeats, and put pressure on the top three automatic promotion places.
It was a slow start to the game with both teams getting a feel for this potentially crucial contest. The first real chance of the game came for Aaron O’Connor after 18 minutes when he forced a mistake out of the Shrewsbury defender and found himself one on one with Jayson Leutwiler in goal, but his shot was saved by the keeper’s legs.
County had the stronger close to the half with several chances after the half hour mark. Firstly a free kick fell kindly to Ryan Jackson but his attempt as he twisted to face goal was over the bar. Just a minute later Newport had the ball in the back of the net after O’Connor headed in from the six yard box, only for his goal to be ruled out for offside. Less than sixty seconds later Chris Zebroski found himself in space on the edge of the area, his shot across the face of goal was wide of the far post.
Shrewsbury’s only chance of the first half came with just eight minutes of the half remaining when Ryan Woods ran at the County defence before hitting a shot from thirty yards which Joe Day comfortably saved, palming the ball away with both hands to stop Shrewsbury taking a lead into the half.
HALF TIME: NEWPORT COUNTY AFC 0 – 0 SHREWSBURY TOWN FC
The second half began in much the same way as the first and Newport struggled to complete a number of passes due to the high tail wind. The conditions made it extremely difficult for both sides and as a result the quality of football was not the same as it was in the first. Players began to get frustrated and several free kicks were given away in the process. Newport continued to press as best they could and had a couple of opportunities in the box throughout the half although Shrewsbury’s defence held firm to deny Justin Edinburgh’s side a goal.
With two sides in the top six of the division the game was bound to produce a goal at some point in the game and so it proved to be after seventy seven minutes Shrewsbury substitute Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro did brilliantly to keep the ball in play in the corner, beating three County players, before running along the by-line and slotting the ball through Joe Day from a tight angle to give the visitors the lead.
Newport threw everything at the Shrewsbury goal in the closing stages of the match to try and find an equaliser and their frustration showed as players from both sides were caught up in confrontation in stoppage time, ultimately leading to the sending off of Anthony Griffith.
Unfortunately there was not enough time in the contest for County to capitalise on their man advantage and the Jean-Louis’ goal was the only of the game. Shrewsbury go top after Wycombe could only manage a draw with struggling Portsmouth. Newport remain sixth despite losing their third game in a row, still comfortably in the playoffs but seven points away from automatic promotion.
FULL TIME: NEWPORT COUNTY AFC 0 – 1 SHREWSBURY TOWN FC