Newport County AFC vs Cheltneham Town
Newport County AFC
: Day (GK), Butler, Jones, Reid, Bennett (C), Pipe, Nelson, O’Brien, Rose, Bird, Williams. Starting XI: Bittner (GK), Samuel, Sheehan, Owen-Evans, Rigg, Demetriou, Gordon.Subs
Cheltenham Town FC
: Kitscha, Storer, Minns, Hall, Wright, Dayton, De Girolamo. Subs
: Brown (GK), Barthram, Pell (C), Waters, Boyle, Rowe, Wootton, Onariase, Holman, Plavotic, Davis Starting XI
:ATT3,763 (Away 841).
County, wearing white, were unchanged as they looked to build on run of three unbeaten in the league. The home team, Cheltenham Town, were flying high after an excellent mid-week result against Luton Town. With both teams still very much in the fight to stay in the league, this game had turned into a real six-pointer.
It was a slow start from both teams with neither side really taking charge of the game but the 800 strong Amber Army were in fine voice and were rewarded by a professional, defensive performance and quick shutting down which didn’t allow Cheltenham to build any kind of momentum in midfield. The pitch began to cut up as the half wore on and forced both teams into a ‘route 1’ style kicking game. Good pressure from forwards Ryan Bird and Aaron Williams forced some wild clearances from the Robin’s centre backs and earning the Exiles corners and throw-ins in dangerous areas.
minute. A long throw from Sid Nelson was nodded into the box before falling at the feet of Craig Reid outside the far post. Reid connected well but was unable to steer the ball on target and it flew just over the bar.thThe best chance of the first half fell to Craig Reid on the 18
The second half saw the Exiles create a few early chances the best of which came as the Robin’s ‘keeper, Brown, flapped at a deep free kick. The ball bobbled around the box, but none of the boys in white were able to steer the ball past some resolute, last-ditch defending.
minute, Cheltenham had their first big chance of the game. A poorly dealt with long throw falling to the feet of striker, Dan Holman, who shot from an impossibly tight angel. Joe Day watched it fly just over his cross bar. The warning signs were there.thOn the 58
Minutes later miscommunication at the back saw Mark O'Brien head the ball into the path of Holman whose initial shot rebounded off the post into the path of Kyle Wootton who couldn’t miss with his follow-up strike.
At 1-0 with thirty minutes to play, County were forced to find a plan B against a Cheltenham team who’d proven difficult to break down. Manager, Westley, saw fit to make some changes and Bennett, Williams, and Reid made way for Rigg, Gordon, and Sheehan. It was a real show of intent from the away team and brought some real variety to County’s play. The subs added some trickery and a more direct style. They were asking new questions of the Cheltenham defence and Cheltenham were struggling to come up with answers as they found themselves being pushed deeper and deeper until Day was the only player left in the County half.
minute too, as Butler found David Pipe at the back post with a chipped cross but Pipe’s headed effort was straight at the keeper.th minute which defender Davis cleared off the line. There was a golden opportunity on the 86thChances came and went for County. Darren Jones got his head on the end of a corner on the 80
minute passed ticked by and the five minutes of injury time appeared to be slipping away. County were still creating chances without being able to capitalise.thIt seemed to be over … no matter what County threw at the home team, they were met with nothing but resilience. The 90
Then came a corner … a last chance perhaps? This time, not even Joe Day stayed in the County half as he joined the melee in the opposition box. The ball fires in, County win the header. Cheltenham scoop the ball away but only as far as Sheehan. Sheehan faints to shoot before sliding the ball into the path of Gordon who slots the ball coolly into the back of the net.
The roar from behind the goals could probably be heard back in Newport. They’d watched their team refuse to roll over, keep battling to the very last minute and earn a thoroughly deserved point.
It was a fantastic end to the game and the travelling fans were exceptional. Manager Westley had this to say about the support: “You’d never believe we were bottom of the league with the support and the noise today. They were astonishing.”
on Friday 10
HOME vs DONCASTER ROVERS
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