County lose out in narrow encounter with Cambridge United at Rodney Parade.
Newport began the game strongly and passed the ball well around the pitch, keeping possession as they went. Alex Rodman was the first to charge into the penalty area and he went down as he was squeezed between three Cambridge players. County continued to press the visitors in the attacking third for a large period of the opening spell of play, winning a couple of corners and sending several crosses into the danger zone. They won a dangerous free kick eight minutes in which was dead centre and thirty five yards from goal which Darren Jones struck after a lay-off from Byrne, the effort deflected wide.
It took another ten minutes for Newport to have their next good opportunity at goal when Scott Barrow won a free kick on the edge of the area that was curled in towards the near post for Lenell John-Lewis who was back from injury, but his header was wide of the mark.
Twenty minutes into the game and Joe Day was called into action for the first time as he needed to be alert to claim a ball that was dancing around the Newport penalty area in a sequence that would eventually lead to the visitor’s first corner of the game a minute later. County failed to clear the lines and after United’s second corner bounced around the box a few times, the Exiles were pleased to see a cross curl wide of the post.
Day was then forced into a superb save when Cambridge broke with a five on four rush over the halfway line and after a couple of well worked passes to remove some of the remaining County defenders from play, Ryan Ledson hit a vicious shot from the edge of the area that Joe Day could only parry aside. County then had another appeal for a penalty when Alex Rodman once again got the better of his marker and went down as he ran into the penalty area, referee Darren England giving a goal kick.
As the game ticked into the final ten minutes of the first half Cambridge almost gifted County the lead with an under hit backpass that Will Norris in the visiting goal only just got to ahead of the onrushing John-Lewis. The game had become much more even as the half progressed but it was still Newport who had had the better of the chances at goal, despite not being able to find the back of the net.
The remainder of the first half passed without incident and despite the better of the two performances, County went into the break level.
HALF TIME: NEWPORT COUNTY 0 – 0 CAMBRIDGE UNITED
The second half started brightly with Jimmy Spencer almost giving the visitors the lead thirty seconds into the half when he beat the offside trap and curled a ball with the outside of his right boot past Joe Day, luckily for County it struck the post and rebounded out of harm’s way. County then had a chance at the other end a few moments later when the ball spun to Scott Barrow on the edge of the area, his shot though was mishit and went comfortably wide.
Ten minutes into the second half Newport had their best chance of the game after a defensive mistake when Lenell John-Lewis broke into the penalty area but he was leaning back as he tried to poke the shot past Norris and the ball went high of the target and meant that the game remained in deadlock. Another good opportunity for the Exiles presented itself on the hour mark when Medy Elito played a delicate lofted through ball to Mark Byrne in the penalty area but the
Newport captain as challenged just as he was about to pull the trigger and the ball rolled tamely into the arms of the keeper.
It took 66 minutes for referee Darren England to produce the first card of the game, showing it to Max Clark after a strong challenge that was too late and County had an opportunity to deliver a dangerous ball into the middle. Byrne took the kick but he failed to clear the first man. The visitors then took the lead against the run of the play when the ball was played in behind Scott Barrow, who had just run 50 yards to thew attacking goal line, and James Dunne was able to slot the ball under Joe Day and the ball rolled in off the right hand post.
GOAL: NEWPORT COUNTY 0 – 1 CAMBRIDGE UNITED (JAMES DUNNE 68’)
Scott Barrow was replaced by John Christophe Ayina after the goal as Warren Feeney tried to inject some pace into the side and County won a corner with just over a quarter of an hour to go which Ayina delivered and it went straight through the crowd of bodies in the area and out of trouble.
The game then began to settle down with neither side looking as though they would score another goal despite several good opportunities for the Exiles. With just five minutes of normal time remaining County had used all three of their substitutes with the visitors yet to make any. Newport were then gifted a lifeline with a free kick two yards outside the penalty area and just to the right of centre. Coulibaly struck it right footed and did brilliantly to curl it around the wall but there was not enough curl on the strike to sneak it into the top corner of the net and it remained 1-0 to the visitors.
There were five minutes of added time for County to try and get an equaliser but despite a couple of very late chances they were unable to do so and fell to their fifth defeat in a row. Results around them though meant that with just five games to go, County were 11 points clear of safety.
FULL TIME: NEWPORT COUNTY 0 – 1 CAMBRIDGE UNITED
Newport County: Day, Holmes (Donacien 77’), Barrow (Ayina 69’), Jones, Davies, Elito, John-Lewis, Hughes, Boden (Coulibaly 82’), Rodman, Byrne (c)
Subs not used: Green, Klukowski, Morgan, O’Sullivan
Cambridge United: Norris, Legge, Berry (c), Dunk, Clark, Coulson, Dunne, Spencer, Williamson, Ledson, Furlong
Subs not used: Beasant, Omozusi, Roberts, Simpson, O’Neil, Ismail, Horne
Goals: Dunne 68’
Bookings: Clark, Furlong
Referee: Darren England
Attendance: 2,330 (185 away)