County 0-1 Oxford
It was a drizzly Rodney Parade that played host to Newport’s final game of the season as they faced an inform Oxford United on Saturday afternoon. With both sides knowing that there was nothing to play for the game had all the signs of being a typical end of season encounter, although the start of the game at least did not follow the script.
Only three minutes of the game had passed when Oxford were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty area, which was curled in towards the near post and almost converted when Jamie Stephens failed to get to the ball. Luckily for County the header was wide of the post. Oxford weren’t the only side to have early chances though and Newport had a couple of corners in the opening exchanges, all of which easily collected by Ashdown in the visiting goal.
It was the visitors that had the better of the first twenty minutes, on several occasions they threatened the County penalty area and it was only the final ball that denied them the opening goal.
Newport did have chances but they also failed to pose any real threat on net. For an end of season game with nothing on the line it was expected that both sides would simply play the game out, but this was not the case. Heavy tackles and yellow cards were a common sight in the first half, firstly visiting striker Daniel Hylton was put into the book for a challenge on Lee Minshull before Mark Byrne also had his name taken for a silly challenge in midfield that didn’t need to be made.
It was still the visiting side who had the better of the chances after twenty minutes when they found themselves in on goal in a three on two situation, only for Stephens to save brilliantly down low to his left. Only six minutes later Alex Macdonald intercepted the ball on half way and ran at goal beating the County defence only for his shot to go tamely across the face of goal and out for a goal kick.
Miles Storey had Newport’s best chance of the half when he struck the ball from twenty five yards with his left foot that Ashdown had to tip over the bar.
The opening goal came after half an hour when Kemar Roofe picked up the ball in the right corner of the penalty area and unleashed a fierce shot with his right boot that flew across the face of goal and buried itself into the top corner of the net to give the visitors the lead.
The game marked Mike Flynn’s one hundredth game for the club but it was cut short when just before half time he slid into the back of the Oxford midfielder and was shown a straight red card by referee Mark Haywood. Both sets of players crowded round the referee who showed no hesitation in sending Flynn off. Oxford almost scored from the resulting free kick and it took another good save from Stephens to keep the score at only 1-0.
HALF TIME: NEWPORT COUNTY 0-1 OXFORD UNITED
Whilst the first half was full of action the second half certainly fulfilled the end of season script. The game slowed down to a crawl and neither side had many opportunities. It took twenty minutes for the first real attempt on goal which came from a rather tame thirty yard strike from Robbie Willmott which was straight at Jamie Ashdown.
The best chance of the second half for County came from a Willmott free kick after Josh Ruffels also found himself in the book. Willmott’s free kick from midway inside the Oxford half found Kevin Feely’s head inside the six yard box and it took a brilliant reaction save from the visiting keeper to keep the visitors in the lead.
As time ticked down Newport tried to find an equaliser that would give the fans something to cheer in the final game of the season but sadly even with Stephens up for a couple of last minute corners, the second of which he almost scored a superb overhead kick, Newport were unable to get the ball over the line and the season finale ended in defeat for the Exiles. They finish in ninth place in the table, six points outside the playoff places.
FULL TIME: NEWPORT COUNTY 0-1 OXFORD UNITED