Match Report | County Suffer Narrow Defeat to Tranmere

Newport County fell to a narrow 2-1 defeat to Tranmere Rovers in their penultimate home game of the season.

A first-half brace from Tranmere's Rob Apter was enough to cancel out Will Evans' 21st league goal of the season to secure the win for the visitors. 

Graham Coughlan made three changes to the side that faced Accrington Stanley on Tuesday. Nick Townsend, Luke Jephcott, and Nelson Sanca replaced Jonny Maxted, Offrande Zanzala, and Adam Lewis. Sanca was handed his professional debut after featuring on the bench in the last few weeks. 

Tranmere manager Nigel Adkins made three changes of his own. Chris Merrie, Harvey Saunders and Ben Hockenhull, fresh from a loan spell at Southport, were selected ahead of Josh Hawkes, Reece McAlear, and Tom Davies. 

A back-and-forth start to the match produced the first real chance in the eighth minute. Bryn Morris won the ball from Regan Hendry in the middle of the park before firing low on goal, forcing a great save from Tranmere keeper Luke McGee. Morris would try his luck again two minutes, with his second effort going over the bar. 

The breakthrough would come five minutes later. Bryn Morris found Harrison Bright down the right, who swung an inviting cross into the back post, which Will Evans was more than happy to power past McGee to make it 1-0, securing his 21st league goal of the season. 

We came agonisingly close to grabbing a second in the 23rd minute. A dangerous free-kick from Bryn Morris caused chaos in the Tranmere box, with McGee pulling off two point-blank saves, first from Will Evans and then from Seb Palmer Houlden. 

Unfortunately, Tranmere would respond instantly; some quick attacking play finished with Rob Apter firing home from the edge of the box.  

The visitors were on the attack again two minutes later. A long ball found Harvey Saunders, with the striker firing a clever volley from outside the area, which was met comfortably by Nick Townsend. Their next chance would come in the 33rd minute. Luke Norris met James Norris's cross, but the striker was unable to put his effort on either side of the keeper, with Townsend collecting easily. 

Tranmere took the lead in the 35th minute. A long ball from Harvey Saunders would catch the County backline out, with Luke Apter racing through and slotting the ball past Townsend to make it 2-1. 

The County looked for an instant way back in the game. Seb Palmer-Houlden broke on the counter, playing a teasing ball into Luke Jephcott, but the striker was unable to keep his effort down. 

Half time 

Tranmere made a quick start to the second half. Rob Apter, in search of a hat trick, worked his way into the Newport box. Jameson blocked him, and the ball fell to Saunders on the edge of the area, but the striker failed to make the desired connection, with his effort going wide. 

Clear-cut chances were at a premium for the next quarter of an hour, with neither team able to carve out a clear opportunity on goal. Omar Bogle, Harrison Bright, and Will Evans would all play dangerous crosses into the Tranmere box, but the visitor's backline held strong. 

Coughlan went to his bench in the 64th minute, with Offrande Zanzala and Kiban Rai replacing Luke Jephcott and Seb Palmer-Houlden. 

Rai came close to pulling us level in the 69th minute. A brilliant run from Omar Bogle finished with the striker pulling the ball back for Rai. Unfortunately, a last-minute block from Lee O'Connor denied him a career-first league goal. 

With the clock ticking down, Tranmere would have the next opportunity. Luke Norris fired a volley on goal from the outside of the area, with Townsend equal to it. 

We continued to hunt for an equaliser and were presented with an excellent chance with five minutes left on the clock. The ball fell to Matt Baker in the box, but Luke McGee was equal to his effort, pulling off a brilliant save. This would be the last notable chance of the game, with the full-time whistle confirming victory for Tranmere. 


County are in action at Rodney Parade for the final time this season when we welcome Karl Robinson's Salford City. You can find ticket information for the game here

Newport County: Townsend, Bright, Jameson, Baker, Sanca, Evans, Charsley (Norris 78'), Morris, Palmer-Houlden (Zanzala 64'), Bogle (C), Jephcott (Rai 64').

Unused Substitutes: Maxted, Rai, Norris, M.Evans, C.Evans.

Tranmere Rovers: McGee, O'Connor, Hendry, L. Norris (Dennis 83'), Hockenhull, Merrie, Jennings (C), Saunders (Taylor 73'), Apter (Hawkes 83'), J. Norris (Pike 73'), Belehouan.

Unused Substitutes: Hawkes, Murphy, McAlear, Kane.

Attendance: 4,549 (274 away)