Report from Mark Vickery at the County Ground
Swindon Town 0
Newport County 2 (O’Brien 38, Matt 82)
Newport County WdWLWLWLDW
Swindon Town WLDLDWWWLW
Swindon have been in good recently and have plenty of enterprise but County look set up well to manage their threats. Set pieces could be key today
Some light rain showers but bright and breezy. Pitch in excellent condition.
SUMMING UP OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Dealt well with what Swindon offered, combative in the middle and effective coming forward.
Swindon chance when Isgrove hit the bar was key
County made two changes with Whitely sacrificed to the bench in place of McNamara and Tristan Abrahams replacing Padraig Amond who was sub. County continued with their 3–5–2 formation and settled down well probing some patient in the early stages using the wind to their benefit. On 2 minutes, Labadie contested a 50–50 challenge with Conroy in the middle of the pitch and the Swindon captain was unable to continue after treatment appearing to sustain a knee injury. Swindon didn’t make their change immediately but eventually brought on May who went into midfield with Grant going central defence. County kept plugging away winning some corners from some slick exchanges. On 10 minutes, County gained a corner right side which Willmott whipped in dangerously on the wind dropping deep and O’Brien glanced back inside the six yard box and Matt was unfortunate to see his header blocked. Swindon were struggling to clear their lines and County were awarded a series of corners which caused some anxiety in the area. Swindon were forced into some direct play using Yates and Doyle as an outlet but the County defence were quick to stifle. Swindon best moves came from the left channel with Iandolo neat with his distribution pinpointing some strong runs from Woolery. On 18 minutes, Swindon created a decent move when Woolery stole in left side of the box and cut back a decent cross into the box forcing King to make a good collection off his line under pressure from Isgrove. County kept pressing in the middle of the pitch with Sheehan and Labadie combining well and seeing the ball early. On 20 minutes, Willmott did well to pinch the ball off Grant who dithered for a brief moment in possession. He drove forward left side before clipping a clever low pass inside for Labadie and his first time low shot from the left corner fizzed just wide of the right post. Swindon made attempted to turn County around with some direct balls for Yates to latch onto but he was denied with some offside calls. County kept possession and Swindon were forced into conceding a series of untidy fouls in the heart of the pitch with both Labadie and Sheehan caught from behind by May with no caution forthcoming. On 32 minutes, Swindon offered some threat from a move left side with Woolery linking with Doyle. He showed some neat footwork to penetrate just inside the left side of the area but Sheehan tracked back to make an important intervention. Swindon created a counter attack again soon after down the left channel with Woolery seizing the ball ahead of McNamara. His cross flashed deep across the area and Isgrove had an effort from an acute angle parried around the right post by King. County kept pressing with some good attacking play with Abrahams and Matt making the ball stick better. On 38 minutes, County won a corner left side when right back Hunt was put under pressure well by Abrahams. Willmott took the delivery with an excellent cross which went deeper and O’Brien ghosted in back post to head past McCormick. County were boosted by the goal, continuing to snap up possession well and they were bright in their passing. On 42 minutes, Labadie was again pivotal breaking up play well and his low shot from 25 yards was thrashed wide of the left post. On the stroke of half time, County were close to a second goal when Haynes tackled Hunt after delaying his pass high up the pitch. Haynes drove forward and delivered an excellent cross from the channel to the back post and McNamara made a late run to head just wide of the right post. In first half injury, another County corner left side from Willmott was allowed to dangerously drop and Labadie directed a shot on the turn from 10 yards which McCormick saved low down in the right corner. Swindon had a glimmer of chance deep in first half injury time from a quick kick out by McCormick to find Isgrove left channel. He made a strong to the left corner of the box and drilled a low shot which King held well in the left corner.
County were forced back in the early stages of the second half with Swindon more assertive final third and they tested their resolve with some crosses. County held firm clearing their lines well but Swindon kept pressing especially down the left side. On 52 minutes, Iandolo showed quick feet finding Isgrove who had swapped flanks briefly. He cut inside and curled an speculative effort wide of the right post from the left corner of the box. County remained a threat coming out in transition and a good move on 54 minutes saw Sheehan find Willmott in space right side. He darted forward and cut back a decent cross which was cleared for a corner just eluding the late run from Abrahams. From the corner left side, Howkins rose strongly with a stretching header from 10 yards which dropped over the bar. Swindon pressed harder with Doyle and Yates putting pressure on the County defenders in possession. On 56 minutes some indecision by County clearing left side enabling Woolery to drive into space left flank and O’Brien was forced into a late tackle to avert danger. O’Brien was booked and the free kick from a threatening position was wasted with the ball going out for a goal kick. Swindon maintained their tempo and quick to exploit any indecision. On 58 minutes, Woolery caught Haynes in possession and Hunt was quick to seize the loose ball and cut back an inviting ball to the edge of the area. Isgrove was well placed to read but his effort from 18 yards struck the bar and went to safety. On 60 minutes, Swindon forced County to defend deep inside the area and worked a patient move before Iandolo cut inside left side of the area before blasting well over with an ambitious effort from 25 yards. County made attempt to get more control of their game through the middle with Labadie and Sheehan holding the ball but were interrupted by fouls but no booking was forthcoming. Swindon persisted with attacking their left side but when they lost possession the was a vulnerability especially left side for County to come forward. On 70 minutes, County had a great chance to add a second goal when Swindon lost possession and King moved a quick ball left side for Haynes to break forward into space through the middle. He penetrated well into the centre circle exposing the Swindon defence but this pass was somewhat delayed to play in Abraham was caught just offside despite finishing well past McCormick. On 72 minutes, both sides made changes with County replacing Abrahams with Amond and Swindon responded with Woolery sacrificed for Doughty who went attacking midfield Swindon worked some better patient moves for a time with Doughty showing some assurance and industry on the ball left side. On 80 minutes, Swindon had a glimmer of a chance when right back Hunt manufactured some space right side to overlap and cut back a cross which Doyle met well in the air from 12 yards but King read it well claiming comfortably. Swindon made another change moments later with former midfielder Danny Rose replaced by another former Swansea loanee player Tyler Reid. County kept stifling well and were effective on the break and killed the game off effectively on when McNamara seized possession quickly on the right side and his neat pass to the right side was latched onto by Amond. From near the flank he cut back a superb cross into the six yard box which Matt won ahead of Reid and buried the ball into the top right corner beyond the grasp of McCormick. Labadie had been on the end of several tackles and was replaced on 88 minutes by Dolan. Swindon had a lot of the ball in the final stages of the game but found County stubborn to break down defending their box well from the crosses put in. The referee played 5 minutes of injury time but County held firm to gain an important win to tighten the gap at the top of the table.
King (7) — very secure with his hands and was assured dealing with the crosses making some good saves low down. Kicked well in general and made some effective distribution from quick kick outs
Haynes (7) — solid dealing with Isgrove and kept him quiet for large parts. Got caught in possession a few times but put in some good crosses and was bold coming forward with some well timed runs.
McNamara (7) — put under some pressure by Woolery and forced deep for spells defending well in general. Passed tidy and made good contributions to get forward going close at the back post.
O’Brien (8) — strong in the air and marshalled threat from Doyle restricting chances. Made some great tackles and interventions and was always a problem for Swindon on set pieces taking goal well.
Willmott (8) — did well in transition and was a menace with his link play. Put in several dangerous set pieces which Swindon struggled to clear. Worked hard box to box and at the heart of both the goals.
Bennett (7) — alert dealing with the loose ball and quick to move ball on effectively. Broke up and stifled well around the box, did well in the air and denied Yates space clearing well in behind.
Howkins (7) — strong in the aerials duals and coped well with pressure Swindon down their left channel. Read game well knowing when to get tight. Went close on couple of headers again.
Labadie (8) — put in some brave challenges and bounced off several challenges when left unprotected. Linked play well first half carrying threat but forced deeper second half squashing danger well.
Sheehan (7) — was on the end of several late tackles but dusted himself down and kept plugging away. Enterprising second half at the heart of the best moves and made important clearance late on.
Abrahams (7) — grew into game and got stronger in possession setting up some neat moves which was key. Had a few chances off last defender today from crosses and passes which Swindon escaped on
Matt (8) — never allowed Swindon defence any peace and won fair quota of headers. Was forced to play back to goal for spells but threatened when he got facing forward and into box. took his goal well
SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths — they were neat in exchanges final third and when they got ball into Doyle and Yates they came alive.
Weaknesses — midfield was lightweight and lack of height in defence meant set piece vulnerability. Wasted possession on times and gave away a lot of free kicks.
Opportunities — they played direct first half but got the ball down a bit more second half but kept persisting left channel despite swapping Woolery and Isgrove.
Threats — Woolery offered pace and trickery left side and Isgrove creativity. Doyle and Yates guile and around the area with an eye for goal.
D Rock (7) — let a lot of decisions go without punishment which did let game flow but was close to boiling over. Was consistent in his approach
MAN OF THE MATCH
Mark O’Brien — covered yards to recover and deny threat across the line. Put in several brave challenges leading defence well and took his chance very well.
IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
County knew they would have deal with several attacking threats Swindon had up their sleeve but they were very disciplined and wise to the danger. The defence again played well keeping their shape and concentration moving the ball effectively in transition. County were able to carve out chances and they played the conditions better than Swindon. They won their set pieces and their crosses were decent and may have had more goals first half from chances in and around the area. Swindon did come back into the game for a time after the break as expected but the momentum was brief with County killing off the game well. County can improve on their decisiveness with the ball especially playing out from the back and will need to be sharper in mind against Carlisle at home next week with McKirdy and Olomola very mobile and they will offer less time on the ball. Carlisle are likely to play 4–3–3 and will look to use their wide players so it will be important that County deal with their energy and assert themselves more in possession.