Mark Vickery
Oct 5 · 9 min read

Late Nurse wonder strike pinches win for County

Report from Mark Vickery at Rodney Parade

Newport County 1 (Nurse 90+6)

Carlisle United 0

Attendance: 3,681

Form:

Newport County dWLWLWLDWW

Carlisle United LDLWLWdLLW

PRE-MATCH THOUGHTS
Carlisle team looks set up to absorb pressure so key County kept their nerve today especially in the middle of the pitch with Labadie out injured.

CONDITIONS
Mild, cloudy with light rain later in the second half. Pitch looked in decent condition but a little slippery on top.

SUMMING UP OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Bit flat and disjointed, never really asserted game but solid defence gave platform late goal.

TURNING POINT
None to note but late substitutions worked for County

THE MATCH
County were forced into one change with captain Joss Labadie suffering from a knock and he was replaced by Matt Dolan in central midfield. County started patiently with some probing passing movements through the middle and Carlisle setting their stall out to defend deep and get tight on Matt and Amond final third. This set a precedent with Carlisle happy to stifle and look for direct ball into Hope up front with top scorer Olumola just in behind. Carlisle were keen to push their full backs on when invited allowing two at the back on times but County were slow to shift play from the back. On 8 minutes, a more decisive move from deep by County saw Bennett direct a good pass for Matt who dropped off intelligently and chested a neat ball to Amond edge of the area. He adjusted well before blasting a difficult half volley narrowly over the bar. Carlisle were opportunist in their approach with some quick moves left side involving left back Iredale and a quick long throw on 12 minutes caught Howkins unaware but he was able to recover and clear to safety. The game was scrappy times with several untidy fouls being encouraged old fans favourite referee Coggins. On 15 minutes, a direct ball into Matt saw him fend off pulling from Carlisle defender Knight-Percival and turn away allowing play to continue but offered little advantage to County with Carlisle having two players on him immediately. County kept plugging away despite not getting the rub on the decisions and Dolan saw his snapshot from 20 yards deflected over the bar by Webster after a neat lay off from Sheehan. Carlisle persisted with using Hope as an outlet up front who was robust challenging forcing the County defenders to rush their clearances. Carlisle grew into the game with some efficient breaks on the flanks with right back Elliot prominent supporting. On 26 minutes, Carlisle offered more threat from a low move worked left side with Olumola and Iredale combining well to thread a pass left side of the area for Jones to latch onto. He struck a decent low effort from an acute angle just wide of the right post when he should have worked County keeper Tom King. County kept their patience but some of their moves lacked tempo to trouble Carlisle but they were rewarded with a couple of corners on the half hour which Carlisle dealt well with to cleat their lines. Carlisle gained some confidence from their defensive resolve and with Sagaf able in support they carried some threat on the break. On 40 minutes, County invited pressure allowing Sagaf to attack the left side and link inside with Jones. He was given time to direct a pass to the right side of the area and pick out the late run of Bridge who struck a decent effort inches wide of the left post. On 42 minutes, a bold run by Carlisle right back Elliot took him goalside of Haynes who was forced into an untidy challenge from behind earning himself a booking. County forced some disjointed pressure on the stroke of half time with some loose passes from the Carlisle defence not being punished.

County made a change at half time with right back McNamara replaced by Abrahams with County changing to a more attacking 3–4–3 formation. County started with more purpose for a time moving the ball lower and slicker but Carlisle remained organised to clear crosses. Carlisle kept absorbing pressure and picking holes especially left side with Howkins forced to come across to clear danger. On 52 minutes, Carlisle worked their best move of the game left side with Olumola shielding well under pressure and have good vision to flick a pass into space. County were slow to track the run in behind of left back Iredale and he got in a decent low shot from the left corner of the area which King saved well in the left corner. On 58 minutes, Carlisle had a decent chance when Bridge was quick to seize the ball ahead of Bennett and his quick pass into Hope invited a first time shot from 25 yards which fizzed just over the bar. Hope continued to cause problems with his determination chasing lost causes in behind. On 65 minutes, Howkins made a bit decision delaying a clearance right side and was pickpocketed by Hope. He darted forward forcing Howkins into a clumsy foul to save grace and he was booked by the referee. Carlisle made a change on 68 minutes with a former loan player from last season Harry McKirdy replacing top scorer Olumola. County responded soon after with Amond replaced by Whitely to pep up their approach final third. Carlisle retained their energy going forward with McKirdy making some enthusiastic runs forward which County marshalled well. County were able to force play further up the pitch in the final fifteen minutes playing more direct with Matt and Abrahams contesting well in the aerial duals. On 78 minutes, County created a decent passing move switching play from right to left and Haynes put in a decent cross which was only half cleared and Sheehan was unlucky to see his snapshot blocked from 25 yards. Carlisle made another change on 82 minutes with Loft coming on for Hope. On 84 minutes, County worked a move through the middle with Sheehan finding the run of Whitely and blasted a decent effort wide of the right post from 25 yards. Carlisle were keen to counter when invited with County pushing on with more verve. On 86 minutes, Bridge made the most of the space offered right side of the area. He clipped a neat pass inside for Elliot who drove a decent effort which King claimed well. County made their final change on 87 minutes with George Nurse replacing Matt Dolan. Nurse pushed forward into more attacking role left midfield with Sheehan sitting deeper. County forced some late pressure with Carlisle having to scramble away a couple of crosses into the area. In the third minute of injury Jones caught Sheehan late when he made a strong run inside and was booked. With some supporters drifting away to the miss the traffic, there was sting in the tail and it was delivered by some decisive instinct by Nurse. He combined well with Abrahams in the middle to exploit a gaping hole and with the Carlisle defence sat back defending the area, he unleashed a fierce strike from 30 yards into the top corner with keeper Collin grasping thin air. Carlisle kicked off and Coggins blew his whistle almost immediately with the crowd jubilant and left exhausted.

King (7) — not overworked but alert on crosses and dealt well with pass backs to clear effectively when rushed. Showed safe hands dealing some low crosses thrown and solid saves second half.

Haynes (6) — had a battle with opposite number Elliot but never really able to assert game and forced back in spells. Put in some decent crosses when he penetrated but restricted.

McNamara (6) — put under pressure on times first half and lost track allowing runs behind too easily. Distributed well but saw less invention today and was replaced by:

Abrahams (6) — did well in the air and put in a shift but didn’t retain possession well enough and found space and shots difficult to manufacture.

O’Brien (7) — kept defence solid and organised, timed his tackles, put in several brave headers and cleared well under pressure. Close on couple of set pieces to final touch.

Willmott (6) — worked hard box to box but was limited on crossing opportunities, did his best work when he went into a wider positions especially second half and gave some balance right flank

Bennett (6) — did well in the air, got danger in behind safe and was composed under pressure. Had opportunities to break forward but seemed a little reluctant to push on too much.

Howkins (5) — got caught off-guard a few times from quick throws and delaying his clearances. Dominated in the air and prised ball away denying threat. Went closest on the few set pieces County had.

Dolan (6) — made efforts to push on first half and with more alertness and sharpness in around the area he would have scored. Kept passing simple and tidy.

Sheehan (7) — best cohesive confident moves went through him, offered the main threat with his enterprise and spring to get to ball quicker. Went close with a couple of shots in and around the box.

Amond (5) — quiet game, looked a little leggy today, playing back to goal for large parts and created more concern for Carlisle when he dropped off deeper.

Matt (6) — contested across the line and won fair quota of headers but not always on same wavelength. Chances were restricted but always took at least two defenders with him creating space for others.

SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths — defensively composed, organised and good awareness picking up to mark. Created some good moves in transition with full backs prominent pressing

Weaknesses — left two at the back on times when they gambled, allowing space out wide which County didn’t pick up on. Small side in the middle of the pitch and left gaps.

Opportunities — they used Hope as a battering ram and worked play around him well with dynamic runners. Never really changed tact, sat in and looked for the sucker punch.
Threats — Hope gave outlet and was quick with his feet, prepared to shoot on site, Olumola and Sagaf link play and Jones coordinated play through the middle.

OFFICIALS
A Coggins (7) — was consistently dismissive of a lot of the pulling and late fouls, got the key decisions right including adding on all the injury time.

MAN OF THE MATCH
Josh Sheehan — bright spark in the side today, rarely wasted possession, offered main verve and attacking threat, using ball intelligently and deserved a goal for his efforts.

IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

County knew at the start of this season they would be a more closely marked team and Carlisle set their stall out today to frustrate and stifle their threat final third and pick holes on the counter. To their credit they did this very well, they were disciplined and will feel aggrieved by the result, but this County side never allow sides to relax. One of the best pieces of advice I was given as a footballer was that if you were having a bad game then make sure your opponent does as well and County did that to a tee. County were bold again making some late changes which worked for them and this will be key this season. Amond and Matt were the main goal threat last season but County have the capability to hurt others sides with the midfield contributing and will need those options if they want to remain in the frame at the top of the league. County did miss Labadie today and perhaps played slightly further back up the pitch and when he is missing you feel the full backs will need to be bolder and assert their game better but today they were quite reserved. County will take the fortunate win but know they will need to keep building on this and can’t relax. With the Cheltenham game postponed due to the international break, it gives time to rest a few legs and the Exeter league trophy match on Tuesday at Rodney Parade allows a few fringe players to stamp authority. Next up is Scunthorpe United at home a week Saturday. They have tightened up after conceding a lot of goals earlier in the season, dropping some of the older players for a more hardworking mobile unit so County can expect a similar challenge as Carlisle with former Huddesfield striker Lee Novak their main outlet to squash up top with enterprise in behind from Eisa and Gilliead.

Mark Vickery

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