George Nurse’s emphatic stoppage time screamer ensured Newport County AFC rose to third with a slender 1-0 victory over a dejected Carlisle United.
In a game of few chances, County only had one shot on target, but it was enough for the Exiles to claim all three points and what a cracker it was from Nurse who smashed in a rocket from 35 yards to lift the roof off Rodney Parade.
Michael Flynn elected to make two changes to the side which arguably composed the best performance of the season in victory at Swindon Town last time out.
Captain Joss Labadie missed out completely with an ankle injury sustained in training yesterday, while Tristan Abrahams moved to the bench to accommodate Padraig Amond’s inclusion. Matty Dolan also returned to a 3-4-1-2 formation.
Carlisle United manager Steven Pressley matched Flynn by also making two changes to his side which narrowly saw off Oldham Athletic last weekend – mirroring County with a three at the back system.
Winger Nathan Thomas missed out completely while ex-Exile Harry McKirdy found himself dropped to the bench as Jack Bridge returned from suspension and Hallam Hope also came back in.
It certainly wasn’t the most enterprising of opening 45 minutes of football as neither side particularly asserted any real ascendency and there wasn’t a single shot on target in the first half.
County started the better, if any, but couldn’t capitalise on their early possession – Amond fired just over when set up by Jamille Matt, while Matty Dolan saw a shot deflected over the top on 22 minutes.
The returning Bridge – coming back from suspension – was by far and above the best player on the pitch as he was able to control the midfield as County suffered in Labadie’s absence, who was sorely missed.
Bridge’s midfield partner Mike Jones flashed a shot wide on 26 minutes before the effervescent 23-year old wasn’t too far away himself six minutes before half time with a stinging drive.
Into the second half and Bridge was again pulling the strings as the architect of all the big chances – he played a stunning pass into Hope just before the hour, but the striker couldn’t keep his attempt down.
Still Carlisle pressed County as the rain tumbled down on Rodney Parade – this time Mark O’Brien’s lunging block was required to keep the visitors out after Jack Iredale had skipped three challenges into the penalty area.
Substitute Corey Whitely flashed a shot just past the top corner as County looked to regain their composure in the final ten minutes.
It just had the feelings of the Crewe Alexandra game back in August and it ended with the same result – County not really having any impact on the game but finding a way to win it.
Timed seemed to be up but referee Antony Coggins allowed time for King to make one final goal kick, it came to substitute George Nurse who caused pandemonium in the stands with a rocket straight into the top corner from 35 yards.
Newport County AFC (3-4-1-2): Tom King, Mark O’Brien (C), Scot Bennett, Kyle Howkins, Danny McNamara (Tristan Abrahams 45’), Josh Sheehan, Robbie Willmott, Ryan Haynes, Matty Dolan (George Nurse 87’), Padraig Amond (Corey Whitely 69’), Jamille Matt
Subs not used: Townsend, Collins, Maloney, Poleon
Carlisle United (3-5-2): Adam Collin (C), Christie Elliott, Byron Webster, Nathaniel Knight-Percival, Jack Iredale, Jack Bridge, Mohamed Sagaf, Mike Jones, Gethin Jones, Olufela Olomola (Harry McKirdy 69’), Hallam Hope (Ryan Loft 80’)
Subs not used: Gray, Carroll, Mellish, Branthwaite, Sorensen
Referee: Antony Coggins
Attendance: 3,681 (167 AWAY)
Next up for County: Exeter City (8th October 2019) HOME – Leasing.Com Trophy