The Exiles secured the double over Carlisle United.
It was a bitterly cold lunchtime in South Wales as Newport County faced Carlisle United in a game that was brought forward to avoid a clash with the rugby but County knew that another three points could potentially see them with a ten point gap to the relegation zone.
Carlisle immediately came forward and won themselves an early throw in a yard from the Newport goal line that the Exiles only managed to clear away at the third attempt, but it was clear early on in the game that Carlisle were looking to show why they were the side higher up the table. Their first shot on goal came from 25 yards out when David Atkinson skilfully went past three players before shooting straight at Joe Day, who initially spilt the ball as it bobbled on the surface in front of him, but was able to gather well at the second attempt without coming under too much pressure.
Newport then had a glorious ninety seconds in front of goal with several attempts in and around the penalty area. First, Scott Boden was unlucky to have his pass cut out at the last minute before a few seconds later he was denied again by a brilliant last ditch clearance before John-Christophe Ayina had his shot on the turn blocked at source after Alex Rodman’s cross found him on the penalty spot.
After a tentative first five minutes Newport really began to find themselves in the game and started to take charge of possession and chances as the pitch began to cut up all over the field and large patches without grass began to show and mud flew up from behind the player’s boots. The game settled down somewhat after fifteen minutes but it was still the Exiles who had the chances, Alex Rodman would perhaps feel he should have done better with his chance on the edge of the box after Scott Boden’s lay off, but the ball went tamely into the arms of Mark Gillespie in the visiting goal.
The visitors did have the occasional chance of their own however and Joe Day had to make a great save down low to his left to keep out Jabo Ibehre’s low cross across the six yard box to prevent it being turned in at the far post. Newport then immediately responded with a corner that was almost turned in by Scott Boden after a bit of a scramble in front of goal he found the ball looping to him at the far post but he was outmuscled by three Carlisle defenders. He then had a glorious chance a minute later when he found himself clear of the defenders following a Conor Wilkinson flick on but as he bore down on goal Gillespie rushed out and Boden could only put the ball wide of the net.
After half an hour it was still 0-0 but how Newport had failed to find the net so far in the contest was beyond most of the fans in the ground. County had played some beautiful football and were unlucky not to be up be ahead by at least a couple of goals by the half hour mark.
With just five minutes of the half to go Carlisle were awarded with a free kick that had the potential to provide some danger to the County defence and as the ball was whipped in towards the near post it was flicked on by Ibehre and only just went over the bar. Joe Day then came out a minute late to punch the ball clear but his punch was far from convincing and there was a moment of panic as three Carlisle players attempted to flick the ball into temporarily open goal, only for Danny Holmes to clear away and relieve the pressure.
As the first half ticked into added time it was still 0-0 but both sides had realistically had chances to score but as the two sides headed towards the break it was still Newport who had the better chances and looked the most likely to score. Despite a last second corner though they were unable to do so and the first half ended as it began.
HALF TIME: NEWPORT COUNTY 0 – 0 CARLISLE UNITED
The second half started with a bad injury to Scott Barrow leaving him needing treatment on the field for five minutes before he was stretchered off and replaced by Janoi Donacien. Newport then managed to take the lead after a bit of confusion in the Carlisle penalty area allowed Conor Wilkinson to fire the ball across the face of goal and Scott Boden was able to bundle the ball in at the back post for his eleventh of the season and giving the lead to County.
GOAL: NEWPORT COUNTY 1 – 0 CARLISLE UNITED (SCOTT BODEN 56’)
Newport continued to press and were almost rewarded with a second goal when Conor Wilkinson tried a volley on the turn and then Boden had a chance for his second after a Medy Elito cross following some nifty footwork to beat his marker down the wing, County were growing with confidence as every minute went by and should have been more goals up than they were.
With twenty minutes to go Newport were still looking comfortable and the visitors didn’t look as though they would score and tie the game but around the ground there was the shared knowedge that one mistake would completely change the game. Mike Flynn brought on Yan Klukowski to replace the slightly injured Medy Elito and the home side continued to push forward looking for a second that could potentially put the game to bed.
Newport got a free kick in a glorious position and almost scored their second when Conor Wilkinson got brought down right on the edge of the box and many of the fans thought that the referee had given a penalty but the linesman closest to the incident gave a free kick which went under the one man wall and hit the keeper on his knee. As the game ticked into the final ten minutes of normal time County were completely dominant as they maintained their one goal advantage they had been given thanks to Scott Boden just before the hour mark.
With five minutes of normal time remaining Carlisle had their last throw of the dice, bringing off their top scorer Jabo Ibehre and bringing on Derek Asamoah as they desperately tried to find an equaliser. Newport though were holding firm as the game moved into injury time at the end of the second half. Carlisle then went down to ten men after Brandon Comley got his second yellow card following two fouls in the space of a minute after he was already on a yellow from the first half.
There were eight minutes of added time following Barrow’s injury and the crowd were in good voice as they sensed a potential three points that would lift County a huge ten points clear of the relegation zone ahead of the remaining fixtures in the league. Conor Wilkinson so nearly doubled the lead when he hit a shot on the turn from the penalty spot but it just glanced the wrong side of the far post.
Mark Byrne got a yellow card with a minute of added time to go giving Carlisle a free kick but Newport were able to clear it away and hold off the challenge of the visitors and secure all three points.
FULL TIME: NEWPORT COUNTY 1 – 0 CARLISLE UNITED
Newport County: Day, Holmes, Barrow (Donacien 52’), Jones, Davies, Elito (Klukowski 70’), Wilkinson, Ayina, Boden (Morgan 94’), Rodman, Byrne (c)
Subs not used: Beeney, Owen-Evans, Partridge, Dymond
Goals: Boden 56’
Bookings: Jones, Rodman, Byrne
Carlisle United: Gillespie, Atkinson, Raynes, Ellis, Gillesphey, Gilliead (Hope 69’), Kennedy, Comley, Sweeney (Joyce 65’), Wyke, Ibehre (Asamoah 84’)
Subs not used: Hanford, Hery, Thompson, McQueen
Sent Off: Comley
Referee: Lee Collins
Attendance: 2,106 (200 Away)