Padraig Amond struck a dramatic stoppage time winner as Newport County AFC’s long unbeaten run in the Football League extended to 15 matches with a gritty 1-0 victory over Crewe Alexandra.
The Exiles had to spend most of proceedings without the ball – Crewe looked really good in possession – but it was ultimately their downfall as they tried to find a winner and County countered for Amond to pass home in the 93rd minute.
County’s rise up the table continues as they sit in 5th.
Manager Michael Flynn elected to make two changes through injury as Joss Labadie was only fit enough for a spot on the substitutes bench and Jamille Matt was ruled out with a leg injury.
Matty Dolan and Corey Whitely – who was making his first league start for the Exiles – came in for like-for-like changes as the Exiles maintained the familiar 4-3-3 formation at Rodney Parade.
Tom King led the way behind a back four composed of Danny McNamara, captain Mark O’Brien, Kyle Howkins and Ryan Haynes. Matty Dolan and Josh Sheehan provided the extra defensive shield, while Whitely played in a more advanced position behind the front three.
Padraig Amond found himself in the familiar role of leading the attacking line through the centre, as Robbie Willmott was deployed on the right and Tristan Abrahams on the opposite flank.
Crewe Alexandra manager David Artell made just the one change to his side which also lined-up in a 4-3-3 system as Olly Lancashire came back from suspension to replace the injured Harry Pickering.
It was quite an interesting contest in the first half, but chances certainly came at a premium as two extremely organised teams with compact defences cancelled each other on virtually every attack.
The visiting Railwaymen looked so comfortable on the ball in energy sapping conditions – temperatures reaching around 30 degrees at pitch level inside Rodney Parade – and they did the look the most threatening, especially when Daniel Powell got going on the right side.
The 28-year old had the beating of Haynes on a couple of occasions and from his dancing run and cross into the box, the Railwaymen could have had a penalty on 36 minutes, but the referee waved away the protests when O’Brien pulled down Porter.
Both first half chances came in the final five minutes, first Paul Green chipped onto the roof of the net after neat play down the left side, before Kirk forced a smart save from King after cutting in from the same flank.
Into the second half and it was again another tense affair in the draining Rodney Parade heat, but Crewe were again happy to boss possession and keep County chasing the ball.
To their magnificent credit, the Exiles defended superbly when keeping the early league leaders at bay, they did switch off once on 61 minutes when allowing Kirk to ghost in unmarked, but King was equal to it when he perhaps could have squared to Porter.
With six minutes remaining, Crewe thought they had won it. Tom Lowery ventured forward to good effect, he cut inside Haynes and looked for all the world like he’s find the bottom corner. King was again equal to it and he superbly tipped it around the post.
There’s always a late twist and for the second match in succession at Rodney Parade, County found a way to win it late on despite spending most of the contest without the ball.
It was harsh on Crewe, but County won’t care. The Exiles countered from another Railwaymen attack, substitute George Nurse slipped in Abrahams, he squared for Amond who had the simplest of jobs to pass into an empty net.
Powell hit the post with seconds remaining as Crewe threw everything towards trying to an equaliser but County again found a way to grind out a result as the imperious home record continues.
Newport County AFC (4-3-3): Tom King, Danny McNamara, Mark O’Brien (C), Kyle Howkins, Ryan Haynes, Josh Sheehan, Matty Dolan (Taylor Maloney 66’), Corey Whitely (George Nurse 62’), Robbie Willmott (Lewis Collins 87’), Padraig Amond, Tristan Abrahams
Subs not used: Townsend, Leadbitter, Labadie, Inniss
Crewe Alexandra (4-1-2-3): Will Jasskelainen, Nicky Hunt, Eddie Nolan, Olly Lancashire, Perry Ng (C), Ryan Wintle, Tom Lowery, Paul Green, Charlie Kirk, Chris Porter, Daniel Powell
Subs not used: Richards, Jones, Ainley, Finney, Anene, Dale, Adebisi
Referee: Leigh Doughty
Attendance: 3,712 (230 AWAY)
Next up for County: West Ham United (HOME) 27th August 2019 – Carabao Cup Second Round