solid defensive display from Newport County set the foundation for a battling 0-0 draw against Crawley Town at Rodney Parade. The game was Mike Flynn’s 100th in charge of the club but was likely one of his most forgettable.
Having suffered back-to-back defeats over Christmas, Flynn was looking for the 43rd victory of his tenure and for some form of retribution over Gabriele Ciofi’s men after the 4-1 humbling suffered in October. Dan Butler was available for the game after the red card shown to him against Forest Green on Boxing Day was rescinded; this allowed Flynn to line his team up in a 3-5 formation with Butler and the fit-again Tyler Forbes playing as wing backs.
The opening exchanges were extremely quiet; a headed effort from a corner for Reece Grego-Cox’s and a lofted half chance for Padraig Amond was the extent of any meaningful action in the first 20 minutes. Similarly, the crowd were equally flat, showing their disgruntlement in the wake of disappointing performances over Christmas; their support was far less vociferous than usual and in fewer increments too. In fairness, there wasn’t a lot for them to get excited about.
Amond would have a further trio of chances in the first half; the first two of which with headers straight at Glenn Morris but the third was a golden opportunity. Just minutes before the half time whistle, Jamille Matt got onto the end of his own through ball and advanced into the box; his footwork eventually saw the ball fall to the in-form Irishman in the centre of the goal but he could only lash it over the bar when it looked easier to score.
It took until the hour-mark for the first clear opportunity of the second half; Dan Butler’s whipped free kick was met with a glancing header by Fraser Franks but the ball sailed agonisingly wide of Glenn Morris’ right-hand post. A little while later, a flowing move covering almost the entire length of the pitch saw Amond’s cross from the right just evade Robbie Willmott’s diving header before pinball ensued from the resulting centre but that was as good as it got for the Exiles.
Mike Flynn will be pleased with his side’s defensive showing; aside from a couple of wayward pieces of distribution, it was a far more assured performance from the back line. Mickey Demetriou in particular won everything in the air and his colleagues never sought to be overly clever with the ball, they went back to basics and cleared their lines effectively at every opportunity.
On the face of it, this game could be seen as another negative during a period of the season where County aren't flexing their muscles as they were in the early weeks. But with games coming thick and fast, one of the smallest squads and smallest budgets in the league, this was a showing that demonstrated a back-to-basics attitude which should give the side raised confidence moving forwards. Stevenage away next where the boss will be hoping his 101st game in charge is a bit more exciting than his 100th.
Man of the Match: Mickey Demetriou
Player Ratings: Day 6, Butler 6, Franks 6, Willmott 6, Dolan 6 (Bakinson 6), Amond 7, Matt 7, Bennett 6, Forbes 7 (Harris 6), Crofts (C) 6 (O’Brien 6), Demetriou 8
Attendance: 3,166 (80 away)