Newport County lost 1-0 against Walsall in their first home game of the 2022/23 Sky Bet League Two campaign, with a Mickey Demetriou own-goal the difference at a packed Rodney Parade.
It was a cagey start to the match with Walsall enjoying the lion’s share of possession. Scot Bennett was booked for a foul right outside of the penalty area early on, with Isaac Hutchinson wasting the resulting free-kick.
Summer arrival Aaron Wildig thought he had given Newport the lead on 11 minutes, heading in a delicious Matt Dolan cross, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag.
Moments later and County came so close to taking the lead. Declan Drysdale hit the post from Demetriou’s long throw, before Dolan stung the palms of Walsall goalkeeper Owen Evans, who did brilliantly to tip the skipper’s powerful effort over.
Hutchinson was the next to see yellow after taking down Omar Bogle, who was breaking away dangerously on the counter-attack.
Sam Bowen was the next to try his luck on 26 minutes, curling a right-footed shot just shy of the top-right corner.
A Demetriou long-throw caused concern for the visitors’ rearguard again just before half-time, with Cameron Norman flicking on at the near post only for it to drift away from goal harmlessly.
Offrande Zanzala also came close for the Exiles before the interval, nodding Dolan’s floated cross past the ‘keeper, unfortunately for him though, it was cleared off the line.
The visitors took the lead on 65 minutes with a rather scrappy goal. Andrew Williams’ flicked-header got over the line despite Nick Townsend’s best efforts, with the goal going down as a Demetriou own-goal.
Drysdale had a fantastic chance to equalise just moments later but volleyed over on the stretch from only six yards out, following another Demetriou throw.
Taylor Allen was sent off with 5 minutes remaining for blocking an attempted throw in as County upped the ante.
NEWPORT COUNTY: Townsend, Norman, Drysdale, Dolan (C) (Waite, 70’), Demetriou, Evans, Bennett, Bowen (Aaron Lewis, 70’) Wildig (Collins, 80’), Zanzala, Bogle (Adam Lewis 82’).
Subs not used: Day (GK), Willmott.
WALSALL FC: Evans (GK), White, Daniels (C), Monthe, Clarke, Allen, Kinsella, Comley, Hutchinson (Knowles, 62’), Williams (Earing 82’), Johnson (Abraham, 62’).
Subs not used: Przybek (GK), James-Taylor, Maher, Bennett.