County's unbeaten run at home comes to an end against Barnet.

Newport County went into this midweek game against Barnet knowing that a win could see them 14 points clear of the relegation zone and 13 points off the playoffs. They named an unchanged side from the one that beat Wycombe Wanderers by a goal to nil at the weekend to face a Barnet side who have only won four from the last ten, who started former Newport goalkeeper Jamie Stephens on their first visit to Rodney Parade.

Barnet had the first opportunity of the game after just 35 seconds when Mark Byrne slipped on half way and gifted the ball to the visitors who were able to come forward and John Akinde fired a shot across the goal from twenty yards out which went just wide of Joe Day’s left hand post and gave the home fans an early scare.

They then took the lead after only eight minutes after some slack defending from the Exiles allowed Barnet to penetrate the penalty area and pull the ball back to Andy Yiadom twelve yards out whose shot was straight at Joe Day, but the County keeper could only parry the ball into the roof of the net as he fell backwards.


With fifteen minutes of the game gone neither side had really threatened the opposition goal apart from those two early chances for Barney which led to the goal. Newport had numerous attacking throw-ins but the Barnet back line were holding firm and County couldn’t find a way through. Newport’s first real opportunity of the game came from a Mark Byrne effort from 25 yards although his shot was mis-kicked and it went tamely along the ground and into the awaiting arms of Jamie Stephens.

John-Christophe Ayina then won a header for the Exiles from a Mark Byrne in-swinging corner that caused problems for the Barnet defence as it was headed down into the ground and Stephens took two attempts at gathering it before gratefully clutching it to his chest amongst a flurry of swinging boots. 

Newport had the majority of possession but they were unable to do anything significant with it. Numerous chances went over the top of everyone or were lost to optimistic dribbles through the Barnet defence. When Newport did get another significant chances it was Ayina again who turned with the ball on the edge of the area and fired a shot that was deflected over the bar and nothing came from the resulting corner.

With just a few minutes of the first half remaining Newport had another long spell of possession but several passes were played around the back and the ball never really went forward. Conor Wilkinson eventually picked the ball up thirty yards out and was able to take a few touches towards the edge of the penalty area before unleashing a left footed shot that was tamely high and wide of the bar.

In the first minute of added time Newport gave away a penalty after Holmes bought down top scorer John Akinde who then stepped up to take the penalty, aimed down the middle and sidefooted the ball straight into the legs of Joe Day, only for Mark Randall to pounce on the rebound and slot the ball home to double the visitors advantage.


That was virtually the last action of the game and as referee Lee Swabey blew for half time it was the visiting supporters who were the happiest with County fans voicing their displeasure at what they had witnessed in the first half.


Warren Feeney made two substitutions at half time bringing on Tom Owen-Evans and Dean Morgan in place of Klukowski and Holmes, changing the formation to only three at the back. Knowing that two goals were required to get a point out of the game County looked to control the midfield. They got a free kick three and a half minutes into the second half which Mark Byrne took from the left hand side which was cleared away by the visitors and they were able to break with three attackers bearing down on Joe Day with only Owen-Evans back in defence, and it took a lunging block from Donacien to prevent a third goal.

It took almost fifteen minutes of the second half to go by before Newport had their next good chance in front of goal when Dean Morgan controlled the ball well from a Mark Byrne cross, cut inside and his shot was well met by Jamie Stephens running out from his goal line and blocking the shot, before the ball was eventually cleared away.

A mistake by Donacien nearly killed the game off as he was muscled off the ball by Akinde, who was able to cut into the penalty area and attempt a right footed shot towards the bottom right corner of Joe Day’s goal but it was always going wide of the post and it hit the side netting. The crowd could sense that County needed a quick goal if they were going to stand a chance of getting something out of the game, but Barnet’s attack were frequently pressuring the low numbers in County’s three man defence.

The game was killed off with 22 minutes to go when John Akinde netted his 13th league goal of the season, getting on the end of Luke Gambin’s cross and was under no pressure at all as he headed the ball past the diving Day in the centre of the goal.


With ten minutes to go County were really struggling to generate any opportunities and the emphasis was really on damage limitation. The positive that the Exiles can take from the encounter though was that because it was a game in hand, everything as far as the league table was concerned, remained exactly the same. 

As the game ticked into four minutes of added time Barnet nearly added a fourth to their tally for the evening when once again John Akinde muscled his way through the defence and if it wasn’t for him trying to set up a teammate and allowing County to recover, he looked certain to bury it into the corner. County now have to look ahead to a trip to Fratton Park to play fifth place Portsmouth on Saturday before returning to Rodney Parade in a weeks’ time for their other game in hand against Hartlepool United.


Newport County: Day, Holmes (Owen-Evans 45’), Jones, Klukowski (Morgan 45’), Wilkinson, Donacien (Davies 65’), Hughes, Ayina, Boden, Rodman, Byrne (c)

Subs not used: Green, Barrow, Meechan, Gosling

Bookings: Holmes, Davies

Barnet: Stephens, Johnson, N’Gala (Togwell 34’), Neilson, Yiadom (c), Akinde, Gambin (Shomotun 85’), Champion, Randall (Vilhete 76’), Sesay, Pearson

Subs not used: McKensie-Lyle, Muggleton, Stevens, Roberts

Goals: Yiadom 8’, Randall 45+1’, Akinde 68’


Referee: Lee Swabey

Attendance: 2032 (88 Away)

Tweets by @NewportCounty