Chris Gadsby reviews the month of December
Three wins out of four in December and four points from the top of the table. That was the view that Newport County fans had when they looked at the League 2 table on New Year’s Day. The three wins included three clean sheets and Justin Edinburgh’s men were within one win of getting into the automatic promotion places.
Saturday 13th December – Stevenage (H) – Won 2-0 – League Position: 6th - HIGHLIGHTS
Despite Aaron O’Connor being sent off Newport stretched their unbeaten run to nine matches in the league with a 2-0 victory over Stevenage. A goal each for O’Connor and Darren Jones in the first half was enough to see off the visitors, who only had one shot on target in the entire match. The win saw the Exiles climb to sixth place in the table.
Saturday 20th December – Luton Town (A) – Lost 3-0 – League Position: 7th - HIGHLIGHTS
For the second time in as many months Newport travelled to Luton, and they were looking for a victory that would avenge their FA Cup exit. The game started disappointingly with the home side going ahead after only five minutes and they doubled their lead shortly after the break. A Jake Howells goal in injury time sealed the three points. The win saw Luton into the top three and Newport fell a place to seventh, but remained in the playoffs on goal difference.
Friday 26th December – Plymouth Argyle (H) – Won 2-0 – League Position: 7th - HIGHLIGHTS
Boxing Day saw Newport return to Rodney Parade for a playoff battle against Plymouth Argyle who sat fifth in the table coming into the game. Over five thousand people watched Chris Zebroski get an early goal for County with a header against his former club, before Mark Byrne doubled the lead with just eight minutes to go. The visitors hit the bar late on but were unable to find a way past Jamie Stephens in the Newport goal and it was the home side that came out victorious in this playoff clash.
Sunday 28th December – Cheltenham Town (A) – Won 1-0 – League Position: 5th - HIGHLIGHTS
It was the second game in three days for the sides in League 2 and it was Zebroski again with an early goal to score against another of his former clubs. His shot from twenty yards after just eleven minutes of the game proved to be the difference between the two sides and the win meant the Exiles had taken nine points from twelve in December.
After exactly half of the season, Newport were only three points off the automatic promotion places and were projected for eighty points, a total which would have seen them face Southend in the playoff semi-final. Unfortunately in January, Newport suffered three losses in a row, conceding eight goals. Winning those three games would have seen them top of the league at the end of January.