Clinical McBurnie hat trick seals win

Report by Mark Vickery from Rodney Parade

Newport County 3 (McBurnie 63, 79, 86)
Luton Town 0
Attendance: 2,551

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Luton Town LDLWWWdL

County have not won at home since March in the league and that was against Luton. County need to play to the conditions today and take their chances

Cool, very windy with heavy rain showers. Pitch stood up well after the heavy rain but touchlines were swamped

Restricted Luton chances playing against wind and stepped up gears taking chances very well

Joe Day save towards the end of the first half was important

County made just the one attacking change with Zak Ansah replacing Tommy O’Sullivan who was on the bench. County adopted a 4–4–2 formation and started the game stroking the ball around well despite the conditions with a gale in their faces. County produced a couple of decent moves to work the Luton defence but they were able to intercept and clear effectively. Howells was prominent in the earlier stages for Luton with some neat exchanges down the right flank. On 5 minutes, Lawless continued his run deep inside the right side of the County area to receive a low pass from Lee and his crisp shot from 12 yards was well held by County keeper Joe Day. Luton eased their way into the game with McGeehan and Griffiths seeing the ball quickly in midfield and they were quick to pick out passes. County remained a threat on the break down the left channel with Hughes seeing a lot of the ball and prepared to push on. On 10 minutes, Hughes did well to penetrate down the left side of the area linking well to support John-Lewis. His cross was well delivered but appeared to be moved on by wind just eluding the late from Ansah at the back post. County continued to pick holes well on the counter and Rodman went close on 12 minutes when his piercing run down the middle opened up Luton but he dragged his effort wide of the right post from 25 yards. Luton were quick to come forward from deep and set their stall out to pick holes when County lost possession. On 15 minutes, County were given a warning when they left too much space down the centre of the pitch. McGeehan was again pivotal with a slick through ball for Green who saw his curling effort from 25 yards tipped around the right post by the alert Day. Luton gained confidence from their exchanges and made effort to press County into mistakes and the game became increasingly scrappy with neither side able to retain possession. Luton had a couple of good situations with McQuoid an able runner down the left side and Marriot a good outlet holding possession. On 25 minutes, Green was again quick to exploit space with a strong run on the right side of the area but his low shot from 25 yards fizzed just wide of the right post. County made efforts to pick up their game with some patient approach play but their quality with crosses was lacking allowing Luton some respite. Luton continued to enjoy possession but overplayed several passes when in decent positions and County regained their composure as half time approached. On 35 minutes, County created a decent move to stretch Luton from left to right and Rodman darting to the edge o of the area. He showed good vision to pick out John Lewis who had sight of the goal but dragged his effort from 18 yards wide of the left post. Luton continued to probe away and had a good chance to take the lead on 38 minutes. McGeehan was left unmarked and went on direct run down the middle of the pitch after County failed to put a challenge in. With County exposed, he had options either side but played the ball to McQuoid on the left side of the box and his first time shot was superbly parried away by Day around the right post. Luton central defender Wilkinson was only passed fit before the game and was receiving attention on the stroke of half time deep inside the Luton area.

Luton started the second half with purpose despite playing into the elements but County held firm keeping them at arms-length. Luton pressed hard when County had the ball and were quick to flood forward from deep when County squandered possession with McQuoid and Green prepared to stretch the flanks. On 55 minutes, Luton had a half chance when the ball sat up nicely down the centre of the pitch but McGeehan was rash blasting his volley well over from 25 yards. Luton continued to be effect from the breaks from deep with Green positive with the ball at his feet. Rodman was forced into a late tackle tracking back to tackle him on 57 minutes which he was lucky to escape caution but the free kick by Green from 30 yards went straight into the wall. County made a double substitution just after to freshen their pack with Klukowski and Ansah replaced by O’Sullivan and Swansea City loanee Oliver McBurnie. County were energised by the changes with Elito beginning to stamp his influence using the left channel to effect the game. County won a couple of free kicks in decent positions which Byrne delivered well but Luton were able to clear effectively. County kept persisting with the left flank and it paid dividends on 63 minutes with both substitutes playing a part in the goal. Elito broke forward and played a neat pass down the left channel which hugged the touchline. O’Sullivan did well to carry the ball and beat Howells before delivering an excellent low cross which McBurnie read well flicking the ball ahead of Wilkinson into the right corner from 6 yards. Luton made an immediate double substitution with Mackail-Smith and Doyle replacing McQuoid and McGeehan. Luton made efforts to pick up their game with more energy in the final third and County elected to play several direct balls forward which McBurnie was close to but the strong wind carried the ball back to the keeper Tyler. Luton continued to probe away using their right channel and Howells was somewhat fortunate not to get a caution with a late tackle on Elito who just about to play a pass to O’Sullivan. County set their stall out to absorb pressure and counter. They did this well and went close to getting a second on 76 minutes when Elito showed great feet to bring the ball down and his strong run down the middle invited space. He struck a decent low stinging effort from 25 yards but Tyler was able to block and claim the loose ball. County sensed vulnerability in the Luton rear-guard and extended their lead on 79 minutes. This time Rodman went on a strong run down the middle and his low powerful effort from 25 yards was saved by Tyler but not held and McBurnie who stabbed the ball home from inside the six yard box. County made their final change on 85 minutes with John Lewis replaced by Boden. County maintained their shape stifling the Luton attacking play well and were quick to sweep forward. On 86 minutes, some suicidal defending by Luton gifted County a third when a short pass by Tyler to Howells went straight to Boden. He made the most of the situation to set up McBurnie who had the simple task of finding the empty net. County were purring and were close to adding a fourth minutes later after an excellent patient move deep inside the Luton half. Elito instigated the move with a good tackle in central midfield and his low threaded pass found O’Sullivan. With space opening up across the face of the Luton area, O’Sullivan went close with his low effort from 20 yards just wide of the left post. Luton kept plugging away in the three minutes of injury time winning a series of corners but County were in no mood to ruin their clean sheet.

Day (8) — secure kicking into the wind and claimed corners well. made a couple of important saves first half and kept focussed throughout
Barnum-Bobb (7) — defended well letting little goalside and was energetic coming forward enterprising with his link play to turn defenders
Hughes (7) — saw a lot of the ball early on and with better delivery from crosses a goal may have come. Did well in the air and improved passing second half
Bennett (8) — dominated in the air and broke up their threat well. made good decisions of when to press and when to sit back tackling well
Partridge (8) — won some good headers and was composed through distributing well from deep. was close to getting on the end of a couple of crosses back post
Byrne (7) — busy game as usual, took a couple of knocks after some brave sliding challenges. Kept his passing neat and simple sitting largely deep.
Elito (8) — best game in a County shirt, quiet first half kept passing short and neat. Came alive after the break attacking left side and close on several long range shots
Klukowski (6) — in and out of the game, not alive to the loose ball and never really got into enough threatening positions and faded after the break
Rodman (7) — positive runs and did well creating space for Barnum-Bobb when County came forward. Worked hard box to box and struck a couple of stinging shots
John-Lewis (7) — did well with back to goal and retain possession when pressed. When he got facing forward he looked a real threat but restricted on shots
Ansah (6) — found space hard to find especially early on but kept working. Did better when he carried his runs out wide and threatened back post several times

Strengths — had their spells, effective especially on the break and able to retain possession. Midfield were technically sound but restricted to shots from distance
Weaknesses — were slow to track back on times and left space in middle of the pitch. Right back Howells struggled with pace and defenders anxious when pressed Opportunities — they worked the channels well first half and were quick to play to feet. Tried to play on the counter second half which worked for a time
Threats — Green had an eye for a shot, McGeehan was lively and efficient with his passing. Wilkinson aerial prowess on set pieces

D Coote (7) — could have booked a few players but allowed for conditions and was keen to keep the game moving despite missing some advantages

Medi Elito — has struggled for consistency but had ability to hurt Luton and carry ball into effective positions, Instrumental stretching them down the left flank

County were reserved in the first half which was perhaps understandable with the gale in their faces. They did work a couple of decent situations largely down the left side but the final ball or cross could be improved upon with Ansah not picked out with runs to the back post. County started the second half slowly but the changes off the bench were pivotal with County shifting to attack both the right and left flank. Luton were effective for a time playing on the break but once County started playing them at their own game they soon became the more likely winners. Key today was the finishing with McBurnie being in the right place at the right time. Once County got the goal and crucially the lead they became even more menacing attacking well from deep and Luton were unable to live with the verve, pace and enterprise. County now turn their attention back to the FA Cup and will need to deal with a different threat against Barnet who thrive on direct play to target man Akinde who is key to their approach play. If County can stem the supply in and round him and retain the same defensive discipline and shape they will have every chance of pinching a win.