Newport County AFC extended their unbeaten run in regular season Football League fixtures to 13 for the first time in their history with a battling 1-0 victory over early pacesetters Plymouth Argyle.
Never before in their history have the Exiles – or the Ironsides in the previous form – gone 13 games unbeaten in regular season Football League matches but Kyle Howkins’ header ten minutes from time ensured history was made at Rodney Parade.
Only once in past history – back in the 1938/39 campaign had County gone 12 unbeaten in the Football League, now Michael Flynn’s are rewriting the record books once again.
Just like on Tuesday night, Flynn elected to make nine changes to the starting team at Rodney Parade with only Scot Bennett and Mark O’Brien retaining their place.
The Exiles slightly changed their formation to match what Plymouth have started the season playing, Tom King coming back in goal behind Mickey Demetriou, O’Brien and Danny McNamara of a 3-4-1-2 system.
Scot Bennett was utilised in the man marking role of Danny Mayor when helping Josh Sheehan protect the back three, with Robbie Willmott, captain Joss Labadie and Ryan Haynes supporting Jamille Matt and Padraig Amond up front.
Plymouth Argyle manager Ryan Lowe only made two changes to his Pilgrims side which also secured their passage through to the Second Round of the Carabao Cup with a midweek home victory against Leyton Orient.
Lowe brought five of his Bury FC players with him when making the switch this summer and it was some of those summer signings which made an early impact on proceedings at Rodney Parade.
After weathering an early bright start from County, Plymouth started to take control of first half proceedings but County were largely nullifying the threat in terms of chances created by the away side.
The best opportunity of the first half came after nine minutes. County afforded Joe Riley far too much room when the wing-back advanced, he sent a piledriver towards goal, but King fantastically tipped it onto the crossbar with a fine save.
Other than that, the Pilgrims – despite boasting a lot of the ball – didn’t really muster much else before half time, Ryan Taylor went for an audacious back heel at a corner but found Amond in the way to clear.
It was more an interesting tactical battle at Rodney Parade in the first half as neither side created too much when cancelling each other out, Labadie hit a half volley at Alex Palmer but that was about all the action.
Into the second half and the introduction of Tristan Abrahams did wonders for the output from County, his pace, trickery and dynamism causing Plymouth all manner of problems when advancing up the pitch with more gusto and momentum.
The attacker’s cross almost created the opener just before the hour. Neat build up on the right with Matt created space for the delivery, Haynes rushed in at the far post but could only hit the side netting when sliding for the ball four yards out.
Still County kept on coming and their aerial presence was causing all manner of problems, on the hour O’Brien rose highest to head down for Amond, although the bounce took it a little away from the Irishman who could only scuff over the top.
Plymouth had a little spell of possession in and around the 70th minute but never really looked like converting possession into clear cut chances, substitute Jose Baxter took aim from distance, but it was easy pickings for King.
County continued to knock on the door and they finally broke the deadlock with ten minutes to play after more aerial pressure into the Pilgrims penalty area.
Man of the match Haynes worked the ball well with Labadie to create a small opening to cross, the delivery was a pinpoint one and Howkins glided into the penalty area to power a header into the roof of the net past a stranded Palmer.
As expected, Plymouth threw absolutely everything at trying to find an equaliser. A team will always get one chance but it fell to the wrong person, centre half Scott Wootton drifted in behind but blazed miserably over.
History made at Rodney Parade. The unbeaten run continues.
Newport County AFC (3-4-1-2): Tom King, Mickey Demetriou (Kyle Howkins 21’), Mark O’Brien, Danny McNamara, Robbie Willmott, Scot Bennett (Tristan Abrahams 45’), Josh Sheehan, Ryan Haynes, Joss Labadie (C), Padraig Amond, Jamille Matt
Subs not used: Townsend, Leadbitter, Nurse, Whitely, Maloney
Plymouth Argyle (3-5-2): Alex Palmer, Scott Wootton, Gary Sawyer (C), Niall Canavan, Callum McFadzean, Joe Edwards (Jose Baxter 53’), Antoni Sarcevic (Conor Grant 68’), Joe Riley, Danny Mayor, Dom Telford (Klaidi Lolos 84’), Ryan Taylor
Subs not used: Cooper, Randell, Moore, J. Grant
Referee: Peter Wright
Attendance: 5,041 (1039 AWAY)
Next up for County: Walsall FC (20th August 2019) AWAY