obbie Willmott scored for the second time in a week, profiting from another well-rehearsed corner routine as Newport County continued their momentum from Tuesday night against Mansfield Town.
County went into the game having won just one of their last 13 league games against the Nottinghamshire side, that coming in February 2016. This looked destined to continue as in the first minute, the visitors should have taken the lead.
Nicky Ajose is on loan to Mansfield from Charlton Athletic and certainly suits the description of goalscorer and indeed, poacher. But when CJ Hamilton beat his man out on the right and delivered a fizzing cross into his path, the frontman could only send his effort over the bar. A warning shot for County who were brought straight back down to Earth from Tuesday’s somewhat easier outing.
Mike Flynn said in his programme notes that the squad cannot let the excitement surrounding their cup exploits and the impending visit of Manchester City distract them from their league ambitions. He further stated that he believes there is a lot to fight for on both league and cup fronts but they can only achieve their goals by winning football matches.
This mentality was on show for all to see as, on a pitch greatly affected by recent weather, they would put together another corner routine which would result in the ball finding the upper portion of the net. From the right hand side, the ball was played in low and then pulled back to the edge of the box where Robbie Willmott was on hand to make it two in two, dispatching the ball high into the net. For the quality on show in the opening stages, it was nothing more than the game deserved.
They thought it was 2-0 less than ten minutes later as Dan Butler’s free kick found Padraig Amond at the back post who poked it towards Joss Labadie for a tap in but the in-form Irishman was adjudged to have just been offside. Another big opportunity carved out from a set piece though...I wonder if Pep is taking note.
The first half was somewhat settled after the mania of the opening half an hour but the quality of football remained high on both sides. Neither team created a clear-cut opportunity but both worked good areas from which to work, County in particular.
It was much the same in the second half as well; a very cagey affair indeed. Both sides would again get into good areas but just fall short in the final third. County looked most dangerous from set pieces, of which there were many but the visitors defended well.
There was much concern for second half substitute Danny Rose when he went down after an unintentional collision near the half way line. He was sandwiched between two County players and went down with what looked a serious head injury. Much credit should go to the home physio staff who were on in a flash to tend to the stricken visitor. After a lengthy delay, and fitting him up to oxygen, he was OK to walk off the pitch under his own steam.
For all the industry, there was nothing else of real note to follow and it was yet another grind of a victory or County. The rear guard, though seldom stretched did the basics well and that was the basis on which County took the points. A top finish from Wilmott, a well deserved victory for County.
Onto MK Dons on Tuesday where they’ll be hoping to continue this momentum and push back up the table.
Man of the match: Robbie Willmott
Player Ratings: Day 6, Butler 7, Labadie 7, Willmott 8 (Dolan 5), Amond 6, Matt 7, Bakinson 7, Bennett 6, O’Brien 7, Poole 7, Demetriou 7
Attendance: 3,133 (362 away)