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Match Reports

REPORT | Exiles back to winning ways against Cheltenham Town

12 September 2017

The Exiles returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Cheltenham Town.

In a game severely affected by the conditions at Rodney Parade, Padraig Amond was the match-winner with the solitary goal in the 35th minute.

That came after the striker had superbly reacted to a goal bound effort from Ben White, diverting the defenders attempt past a helpless Scott Flinders in the away goal from around four yards.

Mike Flynn elected to make two changes to the team that started the 0-0 draw with Wycombe on Saturday.

The first change was enforced, as captain Joss Labadie missed out with the groin injury picked up on the weekend, Scot Bennett returning to the starting side. The other change saw Robbie Willmott make way for Tom Owen-Evans.

The two changes meant County were also changing formation, with what appeared to be a 3-5-2 formation elected.

Cheltenham Town manager Gary Johnson made one change to his starting line-up, as Jamie Grimes missed out through injury. That meant Will Boyle came back into the team in a like-for-like change as Cheltenham stuck to the 4-3-3 system used on the weekend.

The wet and windy conditions at a drenched Rodney Parade seemed to be affecting Exiles goalkeeper Joe Day early on, with the ball seemingly slipping out of his hands at a corner in just the second minute. Fortunately for County, Dan Butler got back to block the shot from Joe Morrell.

The visitors were adjusting to the conditions much better than Exiles in the opening five minutes, unlucky to not be ahead after creating further chances.

An offside call halted County’s first opportunity of the night, Amond the offender, as the Exiles looked to grow into the game after a slow start.

Both sides had a penalty appeal in the opening ten minutes, although the conditions may have played a significant part, the referee disinterested on both occasions.

Mo Eisa was seemingly the architect of all the Cheltenham openings for the opening quarter-of-an-hour, causing havoc to the County defence, Owen-Evans doing well to block his goal bound shot on 12 minutes.  

Dolan responded for County on 14 minutes, testing the palms of away goalkeeper Scott Flinders, who did well under the conditions to make an otherwise simple save.

Mickey Demetriou fired wide from around 40 yards just after, Owen-Evans forcing a good save from Flinders on 18 minutes as County were beginning to assert some authority on the game.  

But just as County were getting a foothold in the game, the visitors came agonisingly close to an opener. Dolan played a poor pass back towards the County goal which Mo Eisa capitalised on, only for Bennett to get back and force the attacker to curl wide under pressure when in on goal.

Rigg headed wide from a White delivery on 25 minutes, before Padraig Amond came within an inch of giving County the lead.

Amond was picked out just outside the area by Dolan, turned his man and fired a shot that looked destined for the bottom corner, only for Flinders to get the narrowest of touches to just about send it wide.

It looked like County were fully in the ascendency as the game ticked into the half-hour mark, Carl Winchester providing some resistance for the away side with a shot from just outside the area that went well wide of the far post.

Kyle Storer should have given the visitors the lead when found in the area on 33 minutes, but couldn’t direct his header goalward as Danny Wright’s follow-up hit the side-netting.

And the Robins would be made to pay for that spurned opportunity, as the Exiles took the lead in the 35th minute through Padraig Amond.

Initially, Dan Butler had a shot blocked wide for a corner by Robins defender Taylor Moore. Rigg’s delivery found White in the area, whose goalward shot was deflected in by an alert Amond, as Flinders had no chance of reacting to the composed finish from all of four yards.

Pipe came so close to doubling the Exiles advantage within 60 seconds of the restart, Flinders doing well to recover and save with his legs after initially misreading a Demetriou delivery.

Dolan had a shot blocked moments later as County were really starting to turn the tide at a still dampened Rodney Parade, the Exiles clearly adapting to the conditions the more the game continued.

The indication of one additional minute couldn’t inspire either side into creating another chance as County held a slender advantage at half-time.

It would be unfair on the Robins to say that they were the weaker side in the game, having good spells at times, although County probably deserved to get the opener.

The left-side of Jordan Cranston and Mo Eisa seemed to be working most effective for the visitors, with Ben White doing particularly well to thwart the danger.

Robins boss Johnson was clearly incensed by something during the first-half, making a double attacking substitution at half-time. That saw Eisa and Wright come off for Jerrell Sellars and ex-Exile Janaai Gordon.

And Sellars would be the engineer of the opening opportunity within the opening 90 seconds, although nobody could connect to his cross on the right-side.

Kevin Dawson fired wide after Sellars had again run the County midfield ragged, as the substitution looked to be providing the impact that Johnson was hoping for against a County defence that limited the Robins to only a few opportunities in the first-half.

It took until the 56th minute for the first yellow card to be shown by referee Gavin Ward, Dolan the offender, for a culmination of fouls during the game.

Demetriou blazed over in County’s opening chance of the second-half on 57 minutes, after a corner had been drilled along the area to find the defender just inside the box.  

Sellars was shown a yellow card just after for lunging in too excitedly on Demetriou, with Dolan hitting the stanchion with the resulting free-kick from 30 yards.

An expertly timed challenge by Moore prevented Rigg getting in on goal on 68 minutes, as the game appeared to be quieting down after a frantic opener hour.

Flynn retaliated by sending Robbie Willmott on for Owen-Evans. It was the first league game that Willmott hadn’t started for the Exiles this season, and he almost had a chance to double the Exiles advantage within seconds of coming on, Winchester doing well to scurry back and just about take the chance away.

And if it wasn’t for a divine intervention from White, Cheltenham could have got an equaliser in the 72nd minute. A header from captain Storer had Day beaten all ends up, only for White to somehow head it over the bar.

It was the third time in three league games that White had cleared something off the line, this by far the best as it looked for all the world like it was going to be an equaliser.

Ben Tozer came on for the second Exiles substitution soon after, Rigg the man replaced. The Robins made their final substitution at the same time, Morrell making way for Freddie Hinds.

A slip from Flinders invited Amond to try a speculative chipped attempt on 83 minutes, although the wind played a massive part in seeing the attempt drift wide.

Willmott fired a free-kick at the wall at the start of four additional minutes, Will Boyle booked for the visitors for the previous foul when it looked like Nouble was heading in on goal.

And if it wasn’t for the reactions of Day, Cheltenham would have had a late equaliser. A long ball was launched into the box that found Storer unmarked, only for Day to somehow throw something at it and tip it over the bar.

Boyle fired wide right at the death, as County held on for a first victory in three league games, with the result also becoming the first success over the Robins in five attempts.

County: Day, Pipe (C), White, Demetriou, Bennett, Butler, Dolan, Owen-Evans (Willmott 68’), Rigg (Tozer 75’), Nouble, Amond

Subs not used: Bittner, Cole, Reynolds, Quigley, Jahraldo   


Cheltenham Town: Flinders, Cranston, Storer (C), Pell, Dawson, Wright (Gordon 45’), Winchester, Boyle, Eisa (Sellars 45’), Morrell (Hinds 79’), Moore

Subs not used: Flatt, O’Shaughnessy, Bower


Referee: Gavin Ward

Attendance: 2,916 (231 away)

Next up for County: Morecambe (16th September) AWAY


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