ate goals from Chris Porter and Ollie Ainley heaped more league misery on Newport County as they let a 2-1 lead slip to lose 3-2 away at Crewe Alexandra. The defeat sees them stay in 13th position in the table, eight points off the play-off places.
In a game where the wind certainly played a factor, the home side took the lead just after the half-hour mark when Chris Porter played a clipped ball round the corner for Jordan Bowery, who touched the ball beyond Mickey Demetriou and slotted the ball into the far corner beyond Joe Day. It was the product of a relatively simple move and in truth, was indicative of County's defending; there wasn't enough pressure on the ball at any point and it was subsequently given the treatment. A similar move saw Porter himself put through on goal but his weak attempt was well smothered by Day, who used his feet to make the save.
As has been the case numerous times for County this season, the second half was a far better proposition for the travelling contingent. The better performance got its reward midway through the half when Antoine Semenyo pulled down a lofted ball from substitute Tyreeq Bakinson and dispatched a vicious drive across Ben Garratt into the corner of the net.
Just ten minutes later, the comeback was completed by the in-form Padraig Amond. Bakinson again put a lofted ball into the box and after Jamille Matt made a nuisance of himself, defender Perrry Ng miskicked his clearance, putting it back into the danger area; after the goalkeeper missed his punch, a brief scramble ensured, from which Amond was able to poach his 17th goal of the season, poking in from a couple of yards.
Following the end of the game, manager Mike Flynn described his team's defending as "amateurish." This was on show just two minutes from the end of normal time as, following a free kick from the left hand side, Fraser Franks was penalised for tussling with his man - somewhat unnecessarily as the ball was unlikely to find him - in the area and referee Nick Kinesley was quick to point to the spot. Chris Porter stepped up to send Joe Day the wrong way for his fifth goal in as many games.
But there was still time for County to showcase their defensive frailties as, two minutes into added time, they conspired to throw one more point away. An initial cross from the left was blocked (resulting in calls for handball from players and fans alike), Owen Dale robbed a lothargic Franks in the box to see a deflected effort kept off the line and then Day did well to make a save from the next effort which took two deflections. At the point, the clearance should have been easy to make but under pressure, Dan Butler was unable to and the ball was played back to Ollie Ainley who drove the ball into the net beyond Tyler Forbes' attempted clearance on the goal line.
So a fifth defeat in six games for County and another where points have been dropped from a position in which they were arguably deserved. But it also yet another example of the defence, which has admittedly saved points in the early weeks of the season, becoming the subject of yet more scrutiny as a result of a poor showing. Exeter City at home next week is now huge. I think we can all agree that, on the back of another fantastic cup run, which hopefully can continue beyond Middlesbrough, the money made from that needs to go into that position above all others. Mike Flynn will be aware of this because if the slide isn't halted soon, County will be closer to the bottom two than the top seven and even though a mid-table would still represent a solid season given the club's budget, it would still leave a feeling of "what could've been" around the place.