A Shane McLoughlin brace booked Newport County’s place in the FA Cup second round as they secured a comfortable 2-0 win over Oldham Athletic at Rodney Parade.
Graham Coughlan made four changes for our FA Cup first-round clash with Oldham Athletic. Declan Drysdale, Will Evans, Shane McLoughlin and Aaron Wildig all returned to the team, with James Waite, Kiban Rai, Lewis Payne and Nathan Wood all returning to the bench. Academy players Fraser Needham and Alfie Young also retained their place on the bench.
After an opening ten minutes, which saw neither side take control of the game, Newport carved out the first chance of the half, with Bryn Morris stinging Mat Hudson’s hands in the Oldham goal with a powerful volley from the edge of the box.
The visitors were gifted their first chance of the game when James Norwood latched onto a stray backpass in the 14th minute. The experienced striker, who was largely quiet throughout the match, attempted to chip Nick Townsend, with his effort going wide of the post.
The deadlock was broken in the 19th minute. A beautiful ball across the park from Bogle found Bondswell in space down the left. The Oldham defence couldn’t deal with the resulting cross, with Shane McLoughlin meeting it at the back post and slotting it past Hudson to get our FA Cup campaign up and running.
This sparked a string of half-chances as momentum swung massively in our favour. Will Evans was denied a run on goal when he was brought down by Mark Kitching, with the defender receiving a yellow for the foul.
Minutes later, Omar Bogle dispossessed Harrison McGahey in the box, playing the ball across the area, where it was nearly converted at the front post only for the outstretched leg of Oldham’s Shaun Hobson to put it out for a corner.
After a relatively quiet opening half, Nick Townsend was called into action in the 43rd minute, and our number one responded in style. The head of Joe Nuttall met a cleverly chipped ball from Nathan Sheron, only to be denied by the fingertips of Nick Townsend with the save of the game.
The first chance of the second 45 came just minutes after kick-off. A delightful ball from Aaron Wildig put Evans through, with the striker playing it across the box to Omar Bogle. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make the desired connection, with his effort going just wide.
Evans would be nearly the provider for Bogle again in the 55th minute. After some sustained pressure, Evans swung a ball into the box from the left, with Bogle climbing above a crowded area to head just over the bar.
Micky Mellon went to his subs bench in the 58th minute, bringing on Alex Reid for Joe Nuttall. The striker quickly made his presence felt, forcing a fine save out of Nick Townsend with a dangerous effort from just inside the area with his first touches of the game.
This forced an instant response. After some neat footwork from Bogle on the edge of the area, he passed to Bryn Morris, who fired a powerful strike goalwards, which was deflected wide by Shaun Hobson.
The away team threatened in the 73rd minute. A dangerous ball was played from the left by Josh Lundstram, but Hallan Hope failed to connect with it at the back post. A series of long balls followed and were comfortably handled by our defence.
Five minutes later, Shane McLoughlin provided us with the moment of the match. Aaron Wildig played the ball out wide, and the defender went into business for himself, firing a spectacular shot into the bottom right corner past a helpless Mat Hudson in the Oldham goal to put us 2-0 up.
We refused to take our foot off the gas, though, going in search of a third as the clock ticked down. Lewis Payne made a dangerous run into the box, looking to find Will Evans, only for Mat Hudson to deny him.
Payne tried for a goal himself in stoppage time, dancing around the Oldham defence before firing a shot from distance into the hands of Hudson.
This would be the last action of the game, with the final whistle confirming our place in the draw for the FA Cup second round.
Newport County: Townsend, Drysdale (Payne 68’), Delaney, Evans, Morris, Bogle, Bennett, McLoughlin, Wildig, Baker (Wood 62’), Bondswell.
Subs: Needham, Payne, Waite, Rai, Thomas, Wood, Young.
Oldham Athletic: Hudson, Kitching, Hobson, Lundstram, Nuttall (Reid 57’), Sheron (Gardner 86’), McGahey, Hope, Dickenson (Hogan 32’), Freeman, Norwood (Fondop 86’).
Subs: Langley, Hogan, Raglan, Shelton, Ward, Gardner, Willoughby, Fondop, Reid.
Attendance: 2,541 (343 away)