In our latest series of articles, we will be taking a look back at the 2019-2020 season in more detail as we look at each match and review our season month by month.
The schedule caught up with Newport County AFC in February with the Club having to fit in nine matches in 29 days, which meant the squad played every three to four days throughout the month.
The Exiles struggled on the road but fared better at home, including victory over Leicester City U21s in the last eight of the Leasing.com Trophy.
Performances didn’t always materialise into points and goals were at a premium with defender Scot Bennett topping the scoring chart for the month with just two goals.
There was late heartbreak as County missed out on a return to Wembley after a penalty shoot-out defeat but the squad showed plenty of character to respond positively in the league.
Heavy defeats on the road in the final week of February proved to be a sour end to an eventful month.
Plymouth Argyle 1-0 Newport County AFC – Home Park (February 1, 2020)
Newport were made to rue their profligacy as they fell to a narrow defeat in Devon. A disastrous start saw them lose Ryan Haynes to injury before former Exile Tyreeq Bakinson was picked out at the far post.
County responded well as Joss Labadie tested Alex Palmer, Jamille Matt saw an effort cleared off the line and Mickey Demetriou struck the crossbar, after Gary Sawyer saw red for bringing down Jordan Green, but the Pilgrims managed to hold on.
Team: King; Baker (Howkins 56), Bennett, Demetriou, Haynes (Nurse 5); Sheehan, Labadie (C); Willmott, Amond (Waters 75), Green; Matt.
Newport County AFC 1-0 Leicester City U21 – Rodney Parade (February 4, 2020)
Wembley was in County’s sights once again after seeing off Leicester City’s youngsters to book their place in the semi-finals of the Leasing.Com Trophy.
Bennett powered home from close range in what proved to be the deciding moment of the game to set up a last-four clash with Salford City.
Team: Townsend; Howkins, Leadbitter, Demetriou; Bennett; Willmott, Sheehan, Dolan (C) (Labadie 75), Nurse; Abrahams (Green 76), Matt (Amond 80).
Newport County AFC 0-1 Cambridge United – Rodney Parade (February 8, 2020)
Despite creating plenty of chances, County fell to disappointing home defeat. Their profligacy proved costly once again with Ryan Inniss, Jamille Matt and Joss Labadie all going close.
The home crowd got their first glimpse of January arrival Otis Khan shortly after the hour mark but his debut was to end in defeat when Liam O’Neil slotted home from a Leon Davies pass.
Team: King; Leadbitter (Khan 65), Inniss, Howkins (Abrahams 73), Demetriou; Bennett, Labadie (C), Sheehan (Amond 26); Willmott, Matt, Green.
Newport County AFC 0-0 Walsall – Rodney Parade (February 11, 2020)
The Exiles secured their first point of the month against the Saddlers – but they could have taken all three.
Khan, Dale Gorman and Billy Waters were all handed their full debuts for the Club and the latter twice had sight of goal but missed the target before Green tested Liam Roberts.
Khan almost teed up Matt for a point-blank header but Roberts was alert to the danger to keep County out.
Team: King; Leadbitter (Willmott 45), Inniss, Bennett, Demetriou; Labadie (C), Gorman; Green (Abrahams 77), Waters (Amond 66), Khan; Matt.
Mansfield Town 1-0 Newport County AFC – One Call Stadium (February 15, 2020)
County had to contend with a plethora of injuries and the strong effects of Storm Dennis for their trip to Nottinghamshire.
Michael Flynn was only able to name a five-man bench but the Exiles produced a battling display on their travels.
The Exiles enjoyed chances early on but were caught on the counter when Danny Rose smashed home the rebound from Nicky Maynard’s blocked effort.
Team: King; Willmott, Inniss, Bennett, Demetriou; Green, Labadie (C), Gorman (Dolan 78), Abrahams (Collins 46); Amond, Waters (Matt 58).
Newport County AFC 0-0 Salford City, Salford City win 6-5 on penalties – Rodney Parade (February 19, 2020)
County just missed out on a place in the Leasing.com Trophy final as they were narrowly beaten on penalties.
After a pulsating 90 minutes where both sides could have snatched victory, the game had to be decided from the spot.
Mickey Demetriou, Sheehan, Labadie and Matty Dolan were all on target as both sides netted four of their first five penalties.
Matt kept County in contention but Ryan Inniss unfortunately missed the decisive kick.
Team: King; Bennett, Inniss, Demetriou; Willmott (Abrahams 90), Dolan, Sheehan, Labadie (C), Haynes (Collins 82); Amond (Green 70), Matt.
Newport County AFC 2-1 Bradford City – Rodney Parade (February 22, 2020)
The Exiles bounced back as they came from behind to claim a vital three points against Bradford.
Clayton Donaldson’s looping header gave the Bantams the lead against the run of play.
That didn’t deter the hosts and they went straight back on the attack with Sheehan flicking on Haynes’ corner into the path of Inniss who made no mistake.
They bagged a quickfire second from another corner with Scot Bennett firing in the loose ball after good work from Inniss.
Team: King; Inniss, Bennett, Demetriou; Willmott, Gorman (Howkins 79(, Sheehan (C), Haynes; Khan (Dolan 89); Green (Abrahams 74), Matt.
Grimsby Town 4-2 Newport County AFC – Blundell Park (February 25, 2020)
It proved to be a difficult night in Lincolnshire for County as they slipped to a disappointing defeat.
Green cancelled out Bradley Garmston’s first-minute opener but a superb Josh Benson free kick restored the hosts’ lead.
James Hanson added a third on the hour mark but Padraig Amond ensured the Exiles stayed in the game as he pegged them back.
However, Max Wright sealed the win with a late fourth.
Team: King; Inniss (Labadie 46), Bennett, Demetriou; Willmott, Gorman, Sheehan (C), Nurse; Green (Abrahams 71), Khan; Matt (Amond 46)
Oldham Athletic 5-0 Newport County AFC – Boundary Park (February 29, 2020)
It was another away day to forget as County closed the month with another heavy defeat.
Former Manchester United youth players Danny Rowe and Zak Dearnley put Oldham in control at the break.
Rowe added another after the restart with Thomas Hamer and Jonny Smith adding gloss to the scoreline.
Team: King; Willmott (Howkins 56), Inniss, Demetriou, Haynes; Gorman, Sheehan (C); Khan (Collins 46), Amond, Nurse; Matt (Dolan 75).
Top scorer in February:
Scot Bennett – 2 goals
Join us in our next article as we move onto March!
Article Series by Jay Bayford and Dylan Scarborough