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Report | Exiles secure hard-fought point against Crewe

29 December 2023

Club News

Report | Exiles secure hard-fought point against Crewe

29 December 2023

Newport County battled to a hard-earned 1-1 draw with Crewe Alexandra at Rodney Parade on Friday Night.

After a goalless first half, Chris Long gave the visitors an early second-half lead when he finished off a smart attacking move, before Will Evans, who netted his 17th goal in all competitions, earned a share of the spoils in Sky Bet League Two.

Manager Graham Coughlan made one change to the side that defeated Forest Green Rovers on Boxing Day, with Seb Palmer-Houlden coming into the starting eleven in place of Omar Bogle. Adam Lewis continued his road to recovery by retaining his place on the bench. 

Clear-cut chances were at a premium early on, as neither side gained a real foothold in the game. It was the visitors who came closest in the opening exchanges after seven minutes, James Clarke failed to clear Aaron Row’s low drive from left, with the ball dropping to the feet of Long who forced Nick Townsend into a comfortable diving save.

Looking to build on their win against Troy Deeney’s Forest Green Rovers in midweek, the closest County came early on was in the 14th minute. A well-worked corner from Shane McLoughlin down the far right resulted in a shooting chance for Bryn Morris just outside the area, though his powerful strike was well blocked by Rio Adebisi.

Following that, the Exiles were nearly gifted an opening just fifteen minutes in. A loose cross-field pass from Connor O’Riordon was capitalised on by Evans but the forward was denied from close range by Mickey Demetriou.

With Coughlan’s men in the ascendency, they produced a lighting counter-attack midway through the first half. After Ryan Delaney was able to clear a trademark long throw from Demetriou, Payne broke free down the attacking third, but his low cross couldn't pick out an attacking player.

Just before the break, the home side went close after forcing another good opportunity. McLoughlin's deep cross towards the back post was met by the on-rushing Matt Baker, but he could only guide his header wide of Tom Booth’s net, as the scores were level going into the break.

Half Time

It was Crewe who made an assertive start to the second period and went ahead inside three minutes. After Clarke’s clearance could only find Joe White inside the Exiles half, his through ball found Courtney Baker-Richardson, who turned provider for Long to hammer home at the back post.

The visitors went close again just eight minutes later. Baker-Richardson beat Delaney to the ball before teeing up Rowe, but his effort was well-defended by the covering Clarke.

In a bid to get back into the game, Coughlan deployed a double change midway through the second period in the hope of changing his side’s fortunes in attack. Matty Bondswell and James Waite both took to the field in place of Clarke and Harry Charsley.

Following the change, the Exiles continued to apply pressure and were rewarded with an equalising goal in the 65th minute. McLoughlin showed great fight and power to drive through midfield before his knock-down fell into the path of Evans, who fired home a delightful strike past the outstretched Booth to draw the sides level.

With the momentum with County, Waite went agonizingly close to with an effort from distance just minutes later. Evans’ long-range free-kick was adverted away from danger by Michael Williams but only as far as the midfielder, who powered a right-footed drive narrowly wide of the near post.

In injury time, County thought they had won it when Payne’s cross-field ball picked out Palmer-Houlden free at the far post, but a magnificent stop from Booth denied the Bristol City loanee of securing all three points for County.

Full Time

The Exiles return to Sky Bet League Two action on New Year’s Day as they travel to face Sutton United at Gander Green Lane (3pm).

Newport County: Townsend, Delaney (C), Clarke (Bondswell 63’), Baker, Payne, McLoughlin, Bennett, Morris (Wood 94’), Charsley (Waite 63’), Evans, Palmer-Houlden. 

Substitutes: Maxted, Rai, Lewis, Sanca.

Crewe Alexandra: Booth (GK), Billington, Offord (C), O'Riordan, Demetriou, Williams, White (Cooney 77’), Adebisi, Rowe, Baker-Richardson, Long (Tracey 63’).

Substitutes: Davies (GK), Nevitt, Aglus, Kempster-Down, Robinson.

Attendance: 3,926 (174 away)

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