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Match Reports

Exiles back to winning ways at Gloucester City

22 July 2017

The Exiles remain unbeaten in pre-season following a 4-1 success at Gloucester City. 

Frank Nouble bagged a brace in the first-half for his first County goals, before Ethan Moore halved the deficit just three minutes into the second-half.

Matt Dolan then grabbed a double himself to seal the win for County, making it three wins and two draws so far in pre-season for the Exiles.

The starting team would be composed of predominantly first-team players, with two trialists also named. This meant captain Joss Labadie made a welcome return to the side, gaining his first minutes of pre-season after recovering from the injury that had so far hampered his pre-season schedule.

And within 100 seconds it would be Labadie to create the opening chance, but Frank Nouble couldn’t quite connect to Labadie’s inviting cross.

That would be the only real threat from either side in the opening ten minutes, the sudden torrential downpour clearly having an impact on the pace of the game.

Then, when another chance did fashion itself, County almost took the lead.

After Lamar Reynolds had driven into the box, the ball fell kindly to Nouble, who was unlucky to see his effort blocked on the line by one of the Gloucester defenders. Matt Dolan would fire wide from the clearance.

On 16 minutes, Sean Rigg would be unlucky not to net the opener for the Exiles. After a corner was cleared to his feet, Rigg tried a curled 25-yard drive that looked destined for the top corner, only for Alex Harris in the Gloucester goal to keep the shot out and deflect it onto the crossbar.

County looked well in control at this point and finally got something for their efforts on 23 minutes.

After Joss Labadie had picked up the ball on half-way, he charged through the middle with intent, feeding the ball through to Nouble. Nouble would make no mistake with this opportunity from 20 yards, netting his first goal for the club – somewhat fortunately after the ball appeared to slip through the goalkeeper’s gloves.

Nouble and Labadie both had shots blocked soon after, before Trialist 1 would force a decent save from the goalkeeper after Reynolds had set him up on the angle.

County were looking comfortable at this point, although Kieran Thomas would fire a warning shot to County - his effort from 20-yards flying over the crossbar, however.

But as Gloucester looked to be trying to get a foothold in the game, County extended their advantage.

And it would be Nouble to get his second. With 40 minutes on the clock, Matt Dolan’s corner fell perfectly for Nouble on the edge of the six-yard area - who smashed it past the keeper to extend the advantage.

Joe Day would have to be alert to prevent an instant response from the home side, keeping out a low drilled effort from Ethan Moore.

That would be the final chance of the first-half, in a game where County could feel aggrieved for not being further ahead – clearly having all the ball and the majority of chances.

The Exiles would make six changes at half-time, including Jamie Turley who came on after having 45 minutes at Undy and Scot Bennett also returned to the side.

But it would be the home side to create the first opportunity, and first goal, of the second-half within three minutes of the restart.

After being denied seconds earlier by a well-timed Jamie Turley block, Ethan Moore would make no mistake from the subsequent corner – calmly curling around numerous bodies into the far corner.

Sean Rigg almost instantaneously restored County’s two-goal advantage, only to be denied by a superb save.

But it wouldn’t take County too long to get the third as Matt Dolan got his first of the pre-season campaign on 55 minutes. Dolan’s cross from the right-hand side seemingly evaded everyone in the area and somehow bounced off the post into the net.

They say lightning doesn’t strike twice but Dolan would try the same idea just two minutes later –and it would yield the same result as County pulled further ahead -  although the ball did go in off the goalkeeper this time around.

The extension of the County lead brought about a further four changes to the County side - Tom Owen-Evans, Jay Foulston, Aaron Williams and a trialist getting half-hour.

Marlon Jackson would almost grab another pre-season goal on 65 minutes, his effort forcing another decent save from the Gloucester goalkeeper.

Jackson would have the ball in the net moments later only to be adjudged offside, before Reece King would test Joe Day with 20 minutes to go.

Aaron Williams came close to getting his first of pre-season on 77 minutes, but his effort drifted narrowly wide of the post.

Edjija Mbunga would force Day into another save with ten to go, before Ed Williams fired wide for the home side moments later.

Those would be the final opportunities of the game, as County saw out the victory with ease.

Mike Flynn, returning to the dugout after missing the Chippenham and Merthyr friendlies, took a lot from the run-out.

“A lot of positives today,” he said.

“I thought we played some really good stuff. I thought the boys were switched on, they looked fit and I was really happy with some of the stuff we played.”

Some players did stand out for Flynn personally.

“Frank just needs to keep doing what he is doing – he’s a handful. You’ve seen Matty’s quality today and seen why I wanted him so much. He’s got class in abundance, great left foot, sees the game unbelievably and his attitude is spot on. Really happy with Matty today.

“Joss has a new cast so it was great to get him 45 minutes. I was really pleased with him.”

The only concern for County during the game appeared to be the injury sustained by Marlon Jackson.

Flynn commented: “I was gutted for Marlon, it looks like he has pulled him hamstring so we’ll know more next week. He’s looked really sharp in training and the matches so it’s put a downer on today.”  

Flynn has already switched his attention to facing his old-team Barry Town on Tuesday. On the reunion, he said: “It’ll be mostly trialists and younger players if I’m honest. Some first-team players will be there but with the 3g I have to be careful.”

Midfielder Sean Rigg played an hour at the Spiers and Hartwell Jubilee Stadium, and took many positives from the game.

“It’s great just to get out there and get your fitness and sharpness back. To win a few games in pre-season gets the confidence back so it’s really encouraging.

“The new lads have come in and bonded well so it’s going to be good. Good for Frank to get a couple of goals and get going. They’ve all settled really well and that’s massive so hopefully we can get where we want to be.

“The new 4-3-3 system is a bit different to last season, so it’s something that we’ve got to adjust to. It seems to be working so far but of course we need to still work on it on the training ground.”

County: Day, Barnum-Bobb (Willmott 45’), O’Brien (Turley 45’), Demetriou (Foulston 60’), Trialist 1 (Butler 45’), Rigg (Trialist 3 60’), Labadie (Bennett 45’), Dolan (Owen-Evans 60’), Nouble (Williams 60’), Reynolds (Jackson 45’), Trialist 2 (Trialist 4 45’)

Subs not used: Bittner

Attendance: 268


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