Newport County heeded the call from manager Michael Flynn for an immediate response to last weekend’s defeat to Yeovil by recording a hard-fought 1-0 win away at Tranmere Rovers. The win was County’s third consecutive victory on the road and keeps them in third position in the league – opening the gap to fourth place to three points, while Lincoln City and Exeter both overturned deficits to win 2-1 and 3-1 respectively to remain in the top two spots.
Boss Flynn made three changes to the starting line-up after last weekend’s disappointment at home to Yeovil; Mark O’Brien, Tyler Forbes and Bristol City loanee Antoine Semenyo came in to replace David Pipe, Mark Harris and the suspended Robbie Willmott.
It took all of five minutes for the reaction to come to the fore; Padraig Amond got on the end of a Dan Butler cross and got the ball to Fraser Franks in space at the edge of the box. Centre back Franks took the ball past two defenders before finishing well past goalkeeper Scott Davies, his second goal of the season.
Sticking rigidly to the 3-4-1-2 formation that has become synonymous with County, the away side were in the ascendancy for the entirety of the first half and arguably should have gone into the break with a healthier lead; Antoine Semenyo fired wide from a one-on-one situation, Mark O’Brien had an opportunity from a corner just before the half-hour mark which was well blocked and Tyreeq Bakinson also went wide just before the interval.
The second half was a bit more of a scrappy affair but County continued to generally control the tempo and the direction of play. As the half wore on, however, the hosts began to throw more caution to the wind and take the game to Newport.
The result may have even been different had Rovers substitute Larnell Cole timed his jump correctly from Johnny Smith’s cross, but the away side were generally solid in defence; this was typified when main front man Padraig Amond found was the man ensuring no attacking player could get on the end of a cross late on.
As his 200th appearance for the club became a backs-to-the-wall job, Joe Day puffed his chest and made sure he left Merseyside with a clean sheet as he tipped away an awkward late cross and denied another attempt from Larnell Cole in the dying moments of the game. It goes to show the character of the man that in a game in which he had very little to do for long periods, he was able to do what was required when needed, particularly after last week’s nightmare display.
Next up for County is the latest group game in the Checkatrade Trophy at home to Chelsea U21 before a Rodney Parade league fixture against Cambridge United next Saturday.
Changes may be rung against Chelsea to get more time into players’ legs – Robbie Willmott is likely to fall into this category as his suspension does not spill into Cup competition – but this result will restore confidence in the squad. While scoring goals may still be a worry to some, the Exiles are well versed in grinding out results so we should now consider Yeovil a distant memory and look forwards to better times ahead. Our Journey Continues...
Man of the Match: Fraser Franks
Attendance: 5,745 (298 County)
NB – I will be live-tweeting the upcoming home fixtures against Cambridge United and Macclesfield Town; give me a follow at @DanielFrazer7 for updates and football chat!