Ben Kennedy and Keanu Marsh-Brown both scored their first Newport County AFC goals as the Exiles gave themselves a chance in the battle for the play-offs with a 3-1 victory at Yeovil Town.
It wasn’t the most inspiring of first 45 minutes from either side, but County got the foothold after the restart, the substitutions helped – and a superb three points were secured with some fine individual performances.
Josh Sheehan, Marsh-Brown and Joss Labadie all stood out in the midfield after the break and that gave the Exiles the platform to build upon and they took the lead on 62 minutes through Robbie Willmott’s header.
Kennedy’s deflected strike made it two just four minutes later, Tom James halved the deficit, but Marsh-Brown sent a rocket into the top corner to seal the points in the first minute of stoppage time.
The result moves County back up to 11th in the League Two table and just six points off the play-off positions with two games in hand.
The chase in on!
Manager Michael Flynn was forced into a couple of changes and made four in total from the side that started the victory over Cheltenham Town 15 days ago.
Padraig Amond cruelly missed out on making his 100th appearance for the Exiles when being ruled out of just a third fixture this season, Scot Bennett sat out through injury, while Tyreeq Bakinson and Ade Azeez moved to the substitutes.
Aston Villa loanee Harry McKirdy came in for his first Exiles start after a couple of substitute appearances in recent weeks, with County swapping to a 4-4-2 formation to suit the alterations.
Ben Kennedy, Joss Labadie and Josh Sheehan also came into the starting side for County.
Yeovil Town caretaker manager Neale Marmon – in-charge of the Glovers for the first time – made three changes to his side which has been dragged into the relegation scrap in recent weeks.
The Glovers also lined-up in a 4-4-2 formation from the first whistle in Somerset as Marmon experimented with the team and brought Daniel Ojo, Sessi D’Almeida and Alex Fisher back in.
Out went Carl Dickinson, Francois Zoko and Jake Gray from the starting side for the Glovers.
It’s fair to say that Flynn wasn’t at all impressed with the first-half showing against Cheltenham Town last time out and whilst this opening 45 minutes was better, it still wasn’t great as Yeovil controlled the proceedings up until half-time.
Fortunately for County, despite the home side boasting 67% possession in the first-half, they didn’t really do a lot with it but looked the more likely to break the deadlock if any.
Half chances were the order of the first-half and Joe Day only had to make two saves before the interval, first holding an Alex Pobre strike and then turning away a Thomas James free-kick.
Dobre – an AFC Bournemouth loanee – was the most menacing player in the opening exchanges with some clever play on the left-side, he also sent another shot wide midway through the half, but Yeovil didn’t particularly do much else.
Matthew Worthington, D’Almeida and Gabriel Rogers all sent shots high and wide as the Glovers just couldn’t convert possession into clear-cut chances.
If anything, the best chance before the half-time whistle went the way of County in what was there only opportunity ahead of the interval.
Ben Kennedy wasn’t getting too much luck on the left against a resilient Daniel Ojo but when he did skip past the challenge, the Stevenage loanee played a crisp delivery towards the far post and Robbie Willmott almost sent a volley into the top corner.
The difference in the second-half from the Exiles and without question why they took complete control of proceedings was the improvement of Joss Labadie.
He just took control of everything in the middle, putting his foot in for vital interceptions and getting County on their way with quick counter-attacks when utilising the speed of the Exiles attack.
Such is the fragile state of the Somerset outfit at the moment – goalless in their previous four matches – that one goal was always going to be important and County were ruthless in adding a second straight after the opener and capitalising on the nervous energy in Huish Park.
The opener didn’t have the greatest build-up but certainly had the desired finish to open the game up. Ben Kennedy wriggled out of a scramble to deliver a super cross into the area and Robbie Willmott crashed a header in off the far post.
The celebrations from the winger showed just how much he was also surprised to score a header and it gave County the platform to build upon and they doubled the advantage just four minutes later.
Kennedy was having a much greater impetus on the game after the restart and he netted his opening goal for the Exiles with a deflected 25-yard stunner into the top corner.
You have to give Yeovil credit for how they responded. Their fans were understandably dejected after the second, but the side never gave up, they dug in, and found a way back into the contest with 16 minutes to play.
Glovers substitute Tristan Abrahams had the desired impact Marmon would have been hoping for when he brought him on eight minutes previously, his corner-kick was perfect, and James tapped home through a host of bodies.
As expected, that galvanised the home supporters, but they were on their way out of the stadium in mass exodus in the first minute of stoppage time through an absolute stunner from County to secure the three points.
It was turning into a day for players to get their first goals in County colours and after taking confidence from helping Guyana qualify for the Gold Cup in the international break, Keanu Marsh-Brown sent a rocket into the top corner.
Willmott also saw a volley tipped over the crossbar and Ade Azeez sent a shot wide as County finished the contest with a flourish, getting their play-off ambitions back on track with a resilient victory in Somerset.
Revenge for the 6-0 drubbing back in September accomplished!
Newport County AFC (4-4-2): Day, Poole, Demetriou, O’Brien (C), Butler, Kennedy, Labadie (Dolan 72’), Sheehan, Willmott, McKirdy (Marsh-Brown 59’), Matt (Azeez 85’)
Subs not used: Pipe, Bakinson, Randall, Crofts
Yeovil Town (4-4-2): Baxter, Grant, Mugabi, Warren (C), Ojo, Rogers (Abrahams 66’), James, Worthington, Dobre, D’Almeida (Duffus 71’), Fisher (Zoko 89’)
Subs not used: Nelson, Gafaiti, Gray, Seager
Referee: Nicholas Kinseley
Attendance: 3,983 (AWAY: 744)
Next up for County: Tranmere Rovers (6th April 2019) HOME