REPORT Newport County AFC vs Doncaster Rovers FC
NEWPORT COUNTY XI: Day (GK), Butler, Jones (capt), Reid, Pipe, Nelson, O’Brien, Blanchard, Rose, Bird, Williams.
SUBS: Samuel, Sheehan, Owen-Evans, Parselle, Flynn, Bittner (GK), Gordon.
DONCASTER ROVERS XI: Lawlor (GK), Alcock, Wright, Butler (capt), Mason, Houghton, Blair, Rowe, Grant, Williams, Marquis.
SUBS: Etheridge, Middleton, Keegan, Beestin, Evina, Walker, May.
It was a cold, Friday night in South Wales and it was a high-flying, table-topping Doncaster side vs a dogged, gritty, bottom-of-the-table County side. County’s fate had the potential to change though. Playing on a Friday Night gave the bottom placed team in the football league a chance to jump out of the relegation places - but only if they were able to take all three points. A draw, on the other hand, would mean they remained bottom but bring them within one point of the rest of the pack.
The County starting eleven had just one change from the side that drew with Cheltenham Town FC last Saturday with brand new signing, Maxime Blanchard, taking the place of injured captain, Scot Bennett. The new boy seemed to settle in well, joining the midfield battle with purpose. (Read about Maxime here).
The first half was a scrappy affair with few chances of real note. Whilst County showed, yet again, how dangerous they could be in the air, Doncaster attempted to take advantage of The Exiles high defensive line by playing neat through balls. County were unable to find the target and Doncaster were unable to find the runner. The half ended 0-0.
The second half saw last Saturday’s goal scorer, Jaanai Gordon, come on for Williams in a bid to add a little pace and trickery up front. Gordon has scored 5 goals in 3 games in the reserves as well his injury time equaliser against Cheltenham and immediately began to cause problems for the Doncaster backline; however, by the hour mark, Doncaster had begun to pile on the pressure.
County were finding themselves pushed deeper and deeper until all eleven men were trapped in their own defensive third. Every cleared ball came straight back at them, every blocked cross went for a corner. Doncaster took shot after shot and won corner after corner. Three bookings in quick succession for Jones, Rose, and Blanchard didn’t help matters and it looked like a Doncaster goal was inevitable.
A handball in their own box by Doncaster Rovers finally gave County the respite they needed. They’d absorbed the pressure and they’d come through the other side. With 15 minutes remaining, the game evened out again and the chances were few and far between for either team.
County defended resolutely and fought hard for their clean sheet. They have earned themselves a good point against top of the league and brought themselves to within touching distance of the rest of the pack. County have extended their unbeaten run to five with another huge game on Tuesday night.
Join us Tuesday Night as County will look to extend their unbeaten run to six!