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Matches of Yesteryear - Newport v U's 17/11/18
Written by wessex_exile on Saturday, 14th Sep 2019 12:04

Apologies all, it’s been quite a hectic week at work so this one had to wait until today I’m afraid. I’m off to the New Lawn after this, so looking forward to seeing Noah and anyone else when I get there.

Newport County v Colchester United

Saturday 17th November 2018

Sky Bet League 2 (Tier 4)

Attendance 3,512

Match 11 of the series, and we’re not travelling far back in time for this one, just 11 months ago at Rodney Parade. So, there have been plenty of firsts going around on the Matches of Yesteryear, and here’s another one, the first of the series that I only have the tickets for, and not a programme (though that in itself is quite notable in a way – see if you can spot why on the tickets).

This was quite a local game from where I’m based in North Wiltshire, so me and the youngest drove over for this one. I’ve trained it in the past, which is fine if I want to have some beer, but not so fine when the train takes twice as long and is significantly more expensive. In the league, back-to-back 1-0 home wins against promotion favourites Lincoln City and Swindon had propelled the U’s into 3rd place before this match, with Newport in the play-off places. However, immediately prior to this game results had been considerably less ‘glorious’ for the U’s, exiting the FA Cup 1-0 at Accrington Stanley the previous Saturday, followed by a Tuesday night meaningless 3-1 defeat against meaningless Cambridge United in the meaningless EFL Trophy…meaning that was all three cups over for us – again.

The U’s lined up at Rodney Parade:

1….Dillon Barnes

2….Ryan Jackson

22..Kane Vincent-Young

6….Frankie Kent

5….Luke Prosser (c)

4….Tom Lapslie (Ryan Gondoh ’76)

16..Diaz Wrigh

10..Sammie Szmodics

7….Courtney Senior (Collins 81’)

11..Brennan Dickenson (Mikael Mandron 58’)

45..Frank Nouble

Looking at the Newport line-up that day, there are no obvious names of note to pick out, though there was considerable speculation at the time that their talismanic striker Pádraig Amond might be off to the lofty heights of Shrewsbury – they needed have worried, he signed a contract extension in the January transfer window, and went on to score 21 goals for them that season – and four already this season. Of course, the really big name, and for a big big player, was our very own Big Frank, and his first match against his former club. By the way, Brandon Comley was away on international duties with Montserrat.

With the U’s riding high in the league, and despite the distance from Essex, there was a pretty decent and vocal following from the U’s, and a lot of familiar faces to catch up with as a result. Mind you, it was a bit of a scrum trying to jam us all in the relatively small section of seats available – and not without some pretty heated steward-fan banter back and forth about where our choir could stand to serenade the audience. This was also the first time I’d tried the bar facility for away fans at the ground (having just the one mind you 😉), and whilst it had the general look and feel of an East European bunker, it wasn’t that bad otherwise.

With the game relatively recent, there are still plenty of match reports out there on the internet, so I’ll try and restrict myself to just my subjective perception of the game. The U’s certainly started brightly, passing the ball around well, controlling possession for long spells, but (and this will sound familiar) with very little to show for it. No killer ball into the box, no decisive runs, virtually no one prepared to leather it from 25 yards, apart for one effort from Big Frank, but it was catching practice for their ‘keeper. After the match, Newport manager Mike Flynn said “They were by far the better team in the first half” – better probably, by far certainly not. Still, lots of pretty passing triangles with nothing to show for it meant it was still 0-0 at half-time.

The U’s continued in the same vein into the second half, seemingly believing they had all the time in the world to ponderously pass the ball into the net. The wake-up call came in the 54th minute, with a completely unmarked Newport player delightfully flicking on a corner for Matt to score from point blank range. At the time, I was certain Barnes was to blame, looking asleep to the danger of the flick-on, and maybe with hindsight the video evidence suggests I was being a tad harsh, but in my defence Barnes did not have a particularly good game. Far too often, with a swift break on the cards, Barnes dithered about who to throw it out to, until the opportunity had been and gone.

The goal forced McGreal to change things around, and Dickenson (who had been dreadful all game) was replaced by Mandron. Though the wake-up call did, sort of, wake the U’s up, we still weren’t really creating any decent chances for ourselves, so again Newport County kindly showed us how it should be done. A delightful defensive splitting pass right through the middle of our back line, and Pring easily side-foots past Barnes, who had no choice but to commit but went the wrong way – not his fault this time.

Finally, after enough encouragement, the U’s started to really press, and really start creating chances. Lapslie was terrier-like as usual, but having trouble staying on his feet, and was replaced by Gondoh on 76th minutes, and there-on in it was pretty much all U’s – we hit the bar, Big Frank had a shot cleared off the line, blasted decent efforts just wide – basically, did everything but score. I think special mention does need to be made here for Sammie and Frank, they did at least work hard all game.

However, if we want to talk about decent efforts on goal, we must spare a mention for the comedy gold moment of the match – with the U’s penning Newport back in their own half, inevitably they did break away very late in the game. Harris cut in from the right, evaded a couple of tackles, and clipped over Barnes (though he got a touch) from close range. The ball actually looked destined to spin in off the post, but with the Newport crowd already celebrating a goal, Pring decided to make sure and slide in with the killer touch – only to scoop it up on to the bar and away to safety!

Newport County 2 (Matt 54’, Pring 67’) Colchester United 0

Though that gave me something to smile about at the death, this was a disappointing performance from the U’s, very much reflecting concerns we all had about our style of play – too ponderous, too slow, not enough direct running, and not enough decent crosses into the box. Mind you, the fireworks display from across the river was a nice touch at the end.

The U’s slipped out of the automatic promotion places after this match, replaced by Newport, but went on to have a decent run right through to Christmas, which saw us back in 3rd place. Incidentally, on that Saturday evening, the top seven in order were: MK Dons, Lincoln City, Newport, U’s, Mansfield, Exeter, and Tranmere – Exeter slipped away and were overtaken by todays opponents FGR, so your starter for 10 – which other team wasn’t there at the end, and which team replaced them?

I must have been cross after the Newport game – when I got home I bought Reservoir Dogs…

Incidentally, the ticket thing – they were free! As me and Alfie arrived at the ground to buy our tickets, one of the U’s ladies (I’ve seen her loads of times at matches over the years) thrust this pair of beauties into my hand – must have been complementary tickets for someone else who no longer needed them, but I wasn’t going to argue 😊!

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Letters from Wiltshire #05 by wessex_exile
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