Chris Gadsby reflects on April's games
There was only one month to go in League 2 and Newport found themselves in the playoff places with seven games to go. The back to back games against Bury and Southend, both of which were in the playoffs as well, had been highlighted as the crucial games of the month, although the fixtures against teams in the bottom half were also important, as Newport had to pick up some wins.
Friday 3rdApril – Hartlepool United (H) – Drew 2-2 – League Position: 6th - HIGHLIGHTS
Hartlepool were only a point above the League 2 drop zone when they travelled to Rodney Parade and Newport needed to take advantage of their league position to claim three points and keep up the pressure on the playoff contenders. Hartlepool went 2-0 up after a Minshull own goal on a quarter of an hour, and a Jordan Hugill second put them up by a brace. Darren Jones got one back a minute before half time and then Aaron O’Connor tied it up just three minutes after the break. Despite a missed opportunity to take all three points from a side lower down the table Newport still found themselves in sixth.
Monday 6thApril – Exeter City (A) – Lost 2-0 – League Position: 7th - HIGHLIGHTS
Exeter were trying to find a run of form that would see them sneak into the playoffs at the end of the season. Newport knew that a win was vital considering the two tough games that they had upcoming against teams chasing automatic promotion. The game was still level with just thirteen minutes to go but then David Wheeler got on the end of a through ball and slotted past Joe Day to give the home side the lead. In added time Ismail Yakubu brought Wheeler down in the box, he saw red and Ryan Harley dispatched the spot kick to secure the three points for Exeter. With five games to go Newport were in the final playoff spot, one point ahead of Plymouth, Luton and Exeter.
Saturday 11thApril – Bury (H) – Lost 2-0 – League Position: 8th - HIGHLIGHTS
Newport knew that the two games against Bury and Southend would define their season, victories over the two and they could carry the confidence into the final three games of the season and claim a place in the top seven. Sadly this was not to be the case and after Ryan Lowe opened the scoring after twenty minutes by flicking home a Chris Hussey drive, and Daniel Nardiello made sure of the three points when he found the net with only two minutes of normal time remaining.
Tuesday 14thApril – Southend United (A) – Lost 2-0 – League Position: 9th - HIGHLIGHTS
After defeat to Bury Newport went to Southend knowing that a win was crucial if they were to stand a chance of getting into the playoffs. With a win they would have got back into the playoffs thanks to Plymouth failing to beat Wimbledon but a goal for Cian Bolger seconds before the break and another for Stephen McLaughlin just five minutes into the second half, condemned Newport to their second 2-0 defeat in a row. With three games to go they were three points outside the playoff places.
Saturday 18thApril – Dagenham and Redbridge (H) – Lost 3-2 – League Position: 9th - HIGHLIGHTS
The penultimate home game of the season saw Dagenham and Redbridge come to Rodney Parade. Newport were hoping that they could get three points against a mid-table side who had nothing to play for but the game was relatively dull for the first seventy five minutes. Three goals in ten minutes for the visitors looked sure to give defeat to the Exiles, but stoppage time goals for David Tutonda and Aaron O’Connor reduced the arrears to one goal with a few seconds remaining. Unfortunately the referee blew for full time before they had the chance to get a third, a loss for Plymouth meant that they were still only three points off the playoffs, but their vastly inferior goal difference meant that they now needed other results to go their way in order to stand a chance.
Saturday 25thApril – York City (A) – Won 2-0 – League Position: 9th - HIGHLIGHTS
Newport went to York for their final game of the season and knew that they had to win to stand a chance of still making the playoffs. Goals for David Tutonda and Lee Minshull in the second half ensured that Newport got the win that they needed, but victory for Plymouth meant that, due to goal difference, Newport were unlikely to make the playoffs.
There was only one game left in the season and Newport found themselves on the outside looking in and required heavy losses for both Plymouth and Luton on final day, as well as a huge victory for themselves as well. Whatever happened on final day however, Newport would finish higher up the league than they did last time around.