Chris Gadsby looks back at the month of March
March was a busy month for County as they had several midweek games. Out of the six games in total Newport won two, drew two and lost two and at the business end of the season with only seven games to go, County still found themselves in the playoff places.
Tuesday 3rdMarch – Mansfield Town (H) – Lost 1-0 – League Position: 7th - HIGHLIGHTS
Newport fell to a late goal from Reggie Lamb as they played host to Mansfield Town for their first game in March. Despite having the majority of the possession County again only had a single shot on target in the match. This was their sixth defeat in ten games but Newport were still hanging on to that final playoff spot by a single point over Plymouth, who they were due to play later on in March.
Saturday 7thMarch – Stevenage (A) – Lost 2-1 – League Position: 9th - HIGHLIGHTS
It was a trip to Stevenage next for Newport. Whereas Mansfield were a side desperately trying to put some distance between themselves and the bottom two, Stevenage were looking to beat Newport to one of the playoff spots. Adam Chapman scored a goal for ten man County, who had had Chris Zebroski sent off earlier in the match, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the two goal deficit that they had thanks to goals from Charlie Lee and Bira Dembele. Newport were down to ninth and had several tough games to come.
Friday 13thMarch – Cheltenham Town (H) – Drew 1-1 – League Position: 9th - HIGHLIGHTS
Newport played a day earlier than the rest of the league and could have put some pressure on those around them with a win against struggling Cheltenham Town at Rodney Parade. A lack of communication at the back allowed Wes Burns to tap the ball into the open net just before a quarter of an hour before Miles Storey tied the game up with seven minutes to go before the break. The game finished one all and with Newport failing to put the sides around them under pressure, coupled with their inferior goal difference, wins were going to have to start arriving for the Exiles if they were going to be in the promotion hunt.
Tuesday 17thMarch – Luton Town (H) – Won 1-0 – League Position: 8th - HIGHLIGHTS
Rodney Parade played host to Newport against Luton, the first of two games in a row for the Exiles against playoff opposition. Aaron O’Connor put County ahead after twenty one minutes when he sent the ball crashing into the top right corner of the net from Lee Minshull’s assist. That proved to be the only goal of the game as they hung on to claim only their third win in twelve.
Saturday 21stMarch – Plymouth Argyle (A) – Drew 0-0 – League Position: 7th - HIGHLIGHTS
The relatively short trip to Plymouth was in store for County next. Joe Day had a good performance in goal keeping a clean sheet, but after a good offensive performance against Luton, Newport went back to only have a couple of shots on goal, despite the Exiles having 61% of the possession. Newport held the final playoff place with only eight games to go. Wins would surely see them in with a chance of another trip to Wembley, and an opportunity to repeat their feat of two years ago.
Friday 27thMarch – Accrington Stanley (A) – Won 2-0 – League Position: 6th - HIGHLIGHTS
County rounded off March with a 2-0 win over Accrington Stanley, who by this point in the season were just looking to secure the final few points to make them mathematically safe in League 2. An own goal by Stanley keeper Scott Davies gave Newport the lead with twenty five minutes to go and then a Shaun Jeffers injury time second from close range secured the three points and put Newport in 6th, guaranteed a playoff place at the end of the month, despite playing a day before everyone else.
With just one month to go in the League, Newport were in the playoff places and with games against sides in the bottom third of the table still to play, and two massive games against Bury and Southend to come as well, County’s season was going to be made or broken in April.