Newport County AFC extended their unbeaten run in League Two regular season matches to 12 by battling to a 0-0 draw at Cambridge United.
Chances certainly came at a premium as both sides cancelled the other out, Robbie Willmott with the best chance of the afternoon but Dimitar Mitov got a forceful hand behind a powerful strike.
A second successive point to start the 2019/20 season means it’s County’s best unbeaten Football League run since 1938.
Manager Michael Flynn kept faith in the matchday squad which performed so well for the majority of the contest last weekend in the 2-2 draw with promotion favourites Mansfield Town.
The Exiles again started in the 4-1-2-1-2 formation at The Abbey Stadium with Tom King behind a back four of Danny McNamara, Mickey Demetriou, Kyle Howkins and Ryan Haynes.
Matty Dolan and Robbie Willmott again provided the protective defensive shield, while Josh Sheehan and captain Joss Labadie were the more attack minded midfielders in support of Jamille Matt and Padraig Amond.
Cambridge United manager Colin Calderwood decided to make two changes to his home side when trying to match County in all departments, although it was more of a 4-4-2 formation from the U’s.
The almost like-for-like formations ensured both sides had their openings in an industrious first half, although neither particularly looked like scoring with mostly half chances up to the half time whistle.
The intermittent spells of sunshine, blustery wind and torrential rain didn’t help either team to settle too much, with goal kicks blowing back into their own half, passes going off course and just generally tricky conditions.
County started brighter in Cambridgeshire with what was neat play considering the conditions – Amond, McNamara and Matt all coming close inside 15 minutes.
Cambridge’s early chances came in scrappy circumstances amid a couple of moments of pinball inside the County area but Jabo Ibehre only shot wide in space and Sam Smith saw a header saved.
Back came the Exiles but again there was nothing in terms of clear-cut chances, Labadie hooked a half volley wide then saw another header easily held.
The main moment of note in the first half came on 32 minutes. Luke Hannant worked space for the shot just outside the area, it took a deflection off Howkins, but if anything, that diverted it further from the far post with King scrambling.
The second half again saw the two teams cancel each other out as chances were few and far between but also in no real danger to either goalkeeper.
Haynes and Labadie both saw a header and a snapshot held well by Dimitar Mitov, while smart work down the left from substitute Tristan Abrahams set up a chance for Amond, but the ball was travelling, and it rose over the top.
A stinging long drive from Hannant tested the palms of King when the wind made watching the flight of the ball difficult, but that was all really from the home side despite some long periods of possession.
The introduction of Abrahams made a huge difference in terms of the attacking output from County and with two minutes to go, they thought they’d won it.
The striker interchanged well with Labadie to smash a ball along the face, it set itself well for the onrushing ex-Cambridge man Willmott, but Mitov got a big hand to the ball to scoop it from underneath the crossbar.
No goals could be found at The Abbey Stadium meaning County’s winning run against Cambridge came to an end after six previous successive victories against the U's.
Newport County AFC (4-1-2-1-2): Tom King, Ryan Haynes, Mickey Demetriou, Kyle Howkins, Danny McNamara, Matty Dolan (Tristan Abrahams 61’), Josh Sheehan, Joss Labadie (C), Robbie Willmott, Jamille Matt, Padraig Amond (Scot Bennett 76’)
Subs not used: Townsend, Leadbitter, Nurse, Whitely, Maloney
Cambridge United (4-4-2): Dimitar Mitov, Kyle Knoyle (Leon Davies 44’), Greg Taylor (C), George Taft, Dan Jones, Reggie Lambe, Sam Smith (Andrew Dallas 70’), Paul Lewis, Luke Hannant, Jabo Ibehre (Marc Richards 70’), George Maris
Subs not used: Burton, Dunk, Darling, Knowles
Referee: Marc Edwards
Attendance: 3,949 (224 AWAY)
Next up for County: Gillingham (AWAY) – 13th August 2019 (Carabao Cup First Round)