Re-cap all the action from Rodney Parade.
Newport won the away fixture of the Severnside derby 4-1 earlier in the season and were hoping for a similar result at Rodney Parade in the lunchtime kick-off. Bristol Rovers on the other hand were looking to maintain their push on the automatic promotion places and were out for revenge after their defeat at the Memorial stadium in October.
The game was only two minutes old when Alex Rodman burst through the Bristol Rovers midfield and shrugged off two challenges before hitting a right footed shot from 20 yards past the outstretched palm of Steve Mildenhall and, after rebounding off the left hand upright, rolled across the goal line before finding its way across the line giving the Exiles the lead early on.
GOAL: NEWPORT COUNTY 1 – 0 BRISTOL ROVERS (ALEX RODMAN 2’)
Newport completely dominated the first ten minutes of the game with lots of possession and time on the ball. Bristol Rovers really struggled to keep the ball and seemed afraid to make challenges. They equalised though after only fifteen minutes when Ollie Clarke was allowed too much space on the edge of the area and fired the ball past Joe Day and into the top corner of the net.
GOAL: NEWPORT COUNTY 1 – 1 BRISTOL ROVERS (OLLIE CLARKE 15’)
Midway through the first half the game was suddenly much more even but very end to end in classic derby fashion. With the match played at such high intensity and with the crowd putting so much energy into the contest it was only natural that mistakes started to appear for both sides. The County Choir were determined to keep the spirits high however and continued to sing throughout the first half.
Newport County’s next real chance to retake the lead came exactly half an hour into the game when Ayina did well to get past his marker on the edge of the penalty area and fire a left footed shot across the face of goal which beat the visiting keeper, but also beat a sliding Scott Boden by half a yard and the far post to go out for a goal kick.
When Bristol Rovers did have the ball it was much too easy for them to break through the County midfield and get in and around the penalty area, whilst many of their shots were either blocked or were too tame to cause Joe Day any difficulties, Newport needed to be aware of the threats that were posed by the team in fourth as the first half entered the final ten minutes.
As the game entered the singular minute of added time it was the visitors who were the stronger of the two sides and despite Newport having more of the possession they were often let down by stray passes that prevented the final ball that would lead to a chance being successful.
HALF TIME: NEWPORT COUNTY 1 – 1 BRISTOL ROVERS
Newport began the second half as brightly as the start the first with Ayina finding Rodman on the edge of the area and he attempted to place a shot into the top corner which did beat Mildenhall, but was unfortunately just too high and went out for a Rovers goal kick.
County had the better of the first ten minutes of the second half, mich like they did in the first but again they were unable to do anything with the ball and Bristol Rovers were never severely pressured in their final third. Rovers themselves had several corners but it was only at the fourth that they did anything significant with it after Danny Holmes’ header only reached Christian Montano on the edge of the area and his shot went through a crowd of bodies and past Joe Day into the corner of the net.
GOAL: NEWPORT COUNTY 1 – 2 BRISTOL ROVERS (CHRISTIAN MONTANO 55’)
he goal sent the visiting supporters into ecstasy and they suddenly found their voice in the away stand and for the first time in the match, the mood around three sides of the ground was very subdued. Newport’s deficit doubled five minutes later when Matty Taylor outmuscled Janoi Donacien into the area and hit a left footed shot with the side of his foot that Joe Day got a hand to, but it wasn’t enough to keep the ball out and Taylor netted his 20th of the season.
GOAL: NEWPORT COUNTY 1 – 3 BRISTOL ROVERS (MATTY TAYLOR 61’)
Warren Feeney bought on Tommy O’Sullivan to replace Danny Holmes as he changed the formation to a 3-4-3, putting Ayina up front with Boden and Wilkinson. Wilkinson then had a great chance at goal after he turned on the edge of the penalty area and hit a left footed shot towards goal, but the visiting keeper did well to catch the ball and clutch it gratefully to his chest.
With twenty minutes to go Rovers almost scored a forth after a Newport pass hit the referee and allowed them to break with two attackers and only Janoi Donacien back in defence. Joe Day came out to tighten the angle and make himself big and thankfully for the Exiles, the shot hit his left leg and out for a corner.
Yan Klukowksi replaced Connor Wilkinson with fifteen minutes to go with Newport still searching for two goals to get something from the game. It was the visitors who were now dominating possession and having the chances with Newport looking as though they were more focussed on damage limitation than scoring goals themselves.
Ayina nearly made the final eight minutes of normal time very exciting when he got on the end of an Alex Rodman cross fifteen yards out from goal but he was leaning backwards and skied the ball. Bristol Rovers then completed their revenge from the game in October when Donacien played a soft back pass to Joe Day but the substitute Ellis Harrison got there first and toe poked the ball past Day and gleefully watched it roll into the corner.
GOAL: NEWPORT COUNTY 1 – 4 BRISTOL ROVERS (ELLIS HARRISON 85’)
Ben Davies came on to replace Darren Jones with two minutes of normal time remaining as Newport were looking for the game to end and the fans were getting ready to go and watch the final game of the Six Nations. Four minutes of added time were to be played and they passed without incident, Newport falling by four goals to one and remained 14 points clear of the relegation zone before the rest of the weekend’s fixtures were played at three.
FULL TIME: NEWPORT COUNTY 1 – 4 BRISTOL ROVERS
Newport County: Day, Holmes (O’Sullivan 64’), Jones (Davies 88’), Elito, Wilkinson (Klukowski 75’), Donacien, Hughes, Ayina, Boden, Rodman, Byrne (c)
Subs not used: Green, Barrow, Morgan, Partridge
Goals: Rodman 2’
Bristol Rovers: Mildenhall, Brown, Lockyer, McChrystal (c), Clarke, Taylor (Harrison 74’), Lines, Clarkes, Montano, Bodin (Broom 83’), Gaffney (McBurnie 57’)
Subs not used: Puddy, Leadbitter, Parkes, Easter
Goals: Clarke 15’, Montano 55’, Taylor 61’, Harrison 85’
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Attendance: 3,662 (1,042 Away)