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MATCH REPORT: Bristol Rovers 1-3 Newport County

23 October 2021

Courtney Baker-Richardson and a second brace in back-to-back games from Dom Telford saw Newport County run out comfortable 3-1 winners over Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium to get the James Rowberry era off to the perfect start.

Baker-Richardson put County 1-0 up and Telford doubled our advantage soon after.

Brett Pitman got Bristol Rovers back in the game at 2-1 just before half-time but Telford's second and our third saw the game off as a contest just after the hour-mark.

County had the first two major chances of the game. First, Baker-Richardson had a shot well saved by Bristol Rovers keeper James Belshaw after Rovers failed to properly clear Robbie Willmott's free-kick from the right.

And from a corner a few moments later, Mickey Demetriou had a header cleared off the line as Newport asserted themselves early on.

There was a setback on the quarter-hour mark though when captain Matt Dolan was replaced by Finn Azaz due to injury.

James Rowberry's side kept up the pressure though, as Telford struck a half-volley just wide as the Exiles kept pushing for the opener.

County finally got the lead their early play deserved in the 27th minute when Liverpool loanee Jake Cain was played in down the right of the area and his low cross across the face of goal was slid in by Baker-Richardson from a yard out.

Telford doubled County's lead in the 31st minute with a brilliant improvised flick to knock the ball past Belshaw with his back to goal for 2-0 and his third in two games.

Newport did not let up though and should have been 3-0 up in the 39th minute. Substitute Azaz tried an effort on goal from a long way out and that was off target but it landed at feet of Telford who, in space, had a shot brilliantly saved by the outstretched boot of Belshaw.

With two minutes of the first half remaining, both teams had a great chance for a goal within the same minute.

Bristol Rovers broke with Luke Thomas running down the right at pace but Joe Day came up big to make a superb save to keep it at 2-0.

County counter-attacked the counter-attack and the move ended with Oliver Cooper playing in Baker-Richardson who had a shot blocked inside the area.

Pitman struck a superb half-volley in first-half stoppage time though to get the Gas back into the contest just before the half-time break. 

Rovers' Pitman almost made it 2-2 five minutes after the restart but he could only knock his effort from Harry Anderson's cross wide of Day's near post.

Shortly after, Sam Nicholson spooned an effort over the bar after enterprising work by Thomas to set him up. 

But just as the hosts were starting to ramp up the pressure, Telford made it 3-1 to County in the 61st minute.

Azaz broke clear of the Rovers defence and played in Telford who had plenty of time and space to pick his spot before knocking it past Belshaw from 12 yards out.

Joey Barton's side never really looked like getting anything from the contest from that point, with Thomas shooting wide and Alfie Kilgour having a header saved being their only real chances.

County could have made it four in second-half stoppage time but Timmy Abraham chipped his effort over the bar.

Bristol Rovers: James Belshaw, Alfie Kilgour, Luke Thomas, Aaron Collins (Zain Westbrooke '70), Sam Nicholson, Nick Anderton, Connor Taylor, Harry Anderson (Paul Coutts '70), Antony Evans, Glenn Whelan (C) (Sam Finlet '70), Brett Pitman

Subs not used: Jed Ward, Sion Spence, Luca Hoole, Junior Brown

Newport County: Joe Day, Cameron Norman, James Clarke, Matt Dolan (C) (Finn Azaz '15), Mickey Demetriou, Aaron Lewis, Robbie Willmott, Jake Cain, Ollie Cooper, Dom Telford (Kevin Ellison '80), Courtney Baker-Richardson (Timmy Abraham '87)

Subs not used: Nick Townsend, Chris Missilou, Lewis Collins, Alex Fisher


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