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Match Reports

REPORT | Exiles get back on track with victory over Walsall

24 February 2021

A later header from Joss Labadie got Newport County AFC's promotion bid back on track with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Walsall.

It looked as though County's difficult run of form, which saw them claim one victory in their previous 12 Sky Bet League Two fixtures prior to their trip to the West Midlands, was going to continue at the Banks's Stadium

Nicky Maynard and Dom Telford both missed good opportunities to break the dead-lock either side of half-time in a tight game against the Saddlers.

But the Exiles skipper Labadie nodded beyond goalkeeper Liam Roberts with 19 minutes left on the clock to ensure County claimed maximum points and moved back into the play-off places.

Michael Flynn made two changes from the Exiles' 2-0 defeat against Forest Green Rovers on Sunday. Matty Dolan and the returning Scot Bennett replaced Anthony Hartigan and Jake Scrimshaw, who spent the first half of the campaign on loan at Walsall, in the starting line-up.

The Exiles looked comfortable in possession in the early proceedings but were limited to chances on goal, with Matty Dolan's free-kick from 25 yards the closest the visitors came to taking the lead, but Walsall goalkeeper Roberts was able to gather the effort.

County looked to exploit the wide areas as Liam Shephard enjoyed plenty of joy down the right flank and caused Max Melbourne problems. It was the defender who set up another opportunity for the away side when his low cross saw Maynard and Labadie combine, but the latter's effort was blocked.

Labadie enjoyed another opportunity, which was set up on the opposite flank by Ryan Haynes, eight minutes prior to the interval as he turned away from Emmanuel Osadebe before dragging his shot wide.

The Exiles skipper then turned provider to set up County's best chance of the first half when he sent Maynard through on goal, but the on-loan striker saw his shot denied by Roberts, who diverted the ball behind for a corner with a strong save.

Flynn's men finished the opening 45 minutes on the front foot and began the second period in the same vein after the restart. Labadie, who was again at the heart of the move, surged forward and slipped Telford through on goal, but Roberts produced another strong save to keep County at bay.

The home side had struggled to carve out many clear-cut chances down the opposite end, but Nick Townsend had to be alert when Caolan Lavery's effort sailed just wide of the post after Cameron Norman dispossessed Josh Sheehan.

The breakthrough finally came with 19 minutes remaining when Sheehan played a quick corner to Haynes, whose cross into the penalty area found the path of Labadie. The Exiles captain saw his initial effort bounce down off the crossbar but he made no mistake with his second attempt after bundling the ball over the line.

County had to remain alert in the closing stages as Melbourne forced Townsend into making a save with a low effort, but Flynn's men held out to secure a much-needed victory.

Newport County AFC: Nick Townsend, Ryan Haynes, Mickey Demetriou, Matty Dolan, Priestley Farquharson, Liam Shephard, Scot Bennett, Joss Labadie (C) (Anthony Hartigan 90'), Josh Sheehan, Dom Telford (Padraig Amond 61'), Nicky Maynard (Ryan Taylor 80').

Substitutes: Tom King, Aaron Lewis, Luke Gambin, Jake Scrimshaw.


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