Match Report | Newport County 0-1 Salford City

A late goal from Salford City's Matt Smith handed the visitors the win in our final home league game of the season.

Manager Graham Coughlan made two changes from the team that lined up against Tranmere last Saturday. Scot Bennett and Matty Bondswell stepped in for Harry Charsley and Seb Palmer-Houlden, with the former back in the side after recovering from a slight knock picked up against Accrington. Defender Nelson Sanca also retained his place after an impressive performance last weekend. 

Salford also made two changes to their team following last weekend's loss at home to Bradford City. Leading goalscorer Matt Smith was dropped to the bench, with Ethan Ingram stepping in, while Elliot Watt returned to the starting XI following a suspension in place of David Chesters. 

After a hectic opening few minutes, the first chance of the game fell to Will Evans. A dangerous ball from the right was headed on to Evans, who was unable to direct his effort to either side of Alex Cairns in the Salford goal. 

The pressure continued to mount on Salford. First, Bogle headed at Cairns from a corner before Will Evans played through Luke Jephcott, only for Luke Garbutt to block the effort. 

The best chance of the opening 15 fell to Omar Bogle. Harrison Bright battled hard to win the ball down to the right before swinging in an inviting cross. Unfortunately, Bogle failed to make the best contact, with his effort going wide of the post. 

After a busy 15 minutes, the game slowed for the next quarter of an hour. Neither team was able to carve out any clear-cut chances as they battled for supremacy in the middle of the park. 

The Ammies carved out their first chance of the game at the 30-minute mark. Callum Hendry picked up a loose pass from Scot Bennett, but he was unable to make the opportunity count. He fired a weak shot inside the area, forcing Nick Townsend to make a routine save. 

Opportunities continued to be scarce as the clock ticked down towards half-time. Luke Jephcott found space in the box and played a teasing ball across the area, chipping it over Cairns, but no one was on the end of it. The Ammies would then have the ball in our box, with an effort from Ryan Watson being blocked by Nelson Sanca.  

The visitors were handed a good opportunity in the 41st minute when Ryan Watson was brought down on the edge of the area. However, Callum Hendry failed to make the resulting free-kick count, with the ball hitting the wall and falling into the hands of Townsend. 

They would come close to grabbing the opener in first-half stoppage time. A corner was spilt by Townsend, with the keeper recovering quickly to deny Matthew Lund spectacularly before Matty Baker blocked the follow-up effort from Adrian Mariappa on the line. 

Half time 

Karl Robinson's men started the second half quickly. From the kick-off, Matthew Lund ran onto a flick-through from Watson, and Nick Townsend quickly responded, averting any danger. Watson then followed that up with a shot from outside the area, which the keeper comfortably saved. 

A few minutes later, Matty Bondswell broke into the area thanks to some nice play from Will Evans. The defender was brought down under a heavy challenge, but the ref waved away the penalty calls. 

Omar Bogle came within inches of breaking the deadlock on the hour mark. The striker stepped up to fire a spectacular free-kick off the bar following a challenge on Evans outside the area. 

Coughlan went to his bench for the first time in the 64th minute, with Scot Bennett and Matty Bondswell replaced by Harry Charsley and Seb Palmer-Houlden. The latter received a huge standing ovation from the Rodney Parade faithful in what is likely the loanee's swan song in South Wales. 

The Ammies carved out an excellent opportunity in the 68th minute. Substitute Kelly Nami raced through on goal, but Matty Baker blocked his effort as he bared down on goal. Minutes later, Curtis Tilt fired a volley from outside the area high and wide as both teams continued in search of the opener. 

Nick Townsend was called into action in the 78th minute. Callum Hendry hit a powerful strike from outside the area, forcing the keeper into an acrobatic save, with Nelson Sanca quick to clear the rebound. 

The Ammies grabbed the winner in the second minute of stoppage time. Junior Luamba, a constant threat since coming off the bench at the start of the half, broke into the box and played a dangerous ball across the face of goal. A scramble ended in Matt Smith, Salford's leading scorer, smashing the ball into the net from a few yards out. 

County finish the 23/24 season away to Bradford City next weekend. You can find information about tickets here

Newport County: Townsend, Bright, Jameson, Sanca, Baker, Bondswell (Charsley 64'), Morris, Bennett (C) (Palmer-Houlden 64') Evans, Bogle (Zanzala 76'), Jephcott (Rai 70').

Unused Substitutes: Maxted, Zanzala, Waite, Norris.

Salford City: Cairns, Ingram, Mariappa, Watt (C), Watson, Lund (Smith 82'), Hendry, McLennon (Luamba 49'), Tilt, McAleny (Nmai 60'), Garbutt.

Unused Substitutes: Torrance, John, Morton, Humbles.

Attendance: 4,423 (137 away)