Much Spirit in the face of adversity

Report by Mark Vickery from Home Park

Plymouth Argyle 0

Newport County 0

Attendance: 5,071

Form:

Newport County dLLDWWWWWL

Plymouth Argyle WDWWWLWLLL

PRE-MATCH THOUGHTS
 Plymouth are not in the best run of form so will be interesting how much they come out at home. County need to keep discipline and pick holes

CONDITIONS
 Cool, dry and quite windy. Pitch looked in excellent condition

SUMMING UP OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
 Started the game slowly but tremendous team effort and discipline to battle for a draw after sending off

TURNING POINT
 Rigg sending off did little to help County

THE MATCH
 County made three changes from the side that played Blackpool last weekend with captain Scott Bennett returning after suspension with Ben Tozer moving into hi more familiar central midfield role. Mark Randall and Jake Jebb were sacrificed in midfield but named as substitutes with Jordan Green drafted in to play right wing. County were also missing Darren Jones in central defence due to suspension and he was replaced by new signing Abdoulaye Meite. County started the game positively with a couple of decent moves down the right channel involving Green who stretched the Plymouth left back Threlkeld. On 3 minutes, Plymouth countered with a decent move down the left side after Carey made a direct run at Barnum-Bobb who was unfortunate to booked for his first honest tackle when he mistimed his challenge. Plymouth continued to work the left side well with some cleverly constructed moves involving triangles between Carey, Smith and Goodwillie. County were forced back and had to defend some corners which they did well clearing effectively. On 12 minutes, Plymouth forced County deep inside their own and after a patient move Smith drilled a low shot wide of the left post from 25 yards. County responded with some better approach play and quicker balls into Healey which the Plymouth defence marshalled well. County tested Plymouth with a couple of useful on the wind which caused some difficultly for Plymouth keeper McCormick who was anxious punching the ball. On 18 minutes, Plymouth created a decent chance on the break after County lost possession on the left side of the area with right back Miller breaking up play well. He threaded a quick pass for Jervis and he carried the ball to right side of the area before crossing deep to Carey finding his late run but he scooped his shot well wide and high of the left post. County had a decent situation on 20 minutes when Carey was pressed into a loose pass and Sheehan was quick to thread a ball down the middle for O’Hanlon but his low shot from 18 yard was intercepted by Sango’o. On 23 minutes, County suffered a blow when Rigg stretched to make a clean tackle to win the ball ahead of Jervis but the referee deemed red card offence for foot up. Plymouth tightened their grip on the game but County remained firm defending the flanks well and Jervis was then booked for a late tackle as Sheehan threatened to run down the middle. The game became increasingly feisty with Plymouth edging the possession but County remained competitive in the challenge. On 32 minutes, County were forced to make their first change with O’Hanlon replaced by Myrie-Williams not long after he had received a head injury. On 35 minutes, Butler was booked for a late low tackle from behind on Jervis near the right touchline. Plymouth continued to play patiently with neat balls to feet shifting play from the right to left and vice versa with Carey the main threat with his link play. County look for holes on the break with Healey sole the runner up front but he was often forced off the ball with little support forthcoming. On 45 minutes, Plymouth had their best chance of the half from the industry of Jervis who provided a decent cross from the right side that flashed dangerously deep. County allowed the ball to drop which presented Smith with a first time shot which Day reacted to superbly parrying around the right post. County continued to pick holes with some direct play and they had a glimmer of a chance deep in first half injury time when central defender Sango’o switched off near the edge of the area. Healey pounced but couldn’t enough venom with his low effort from 16 yards which McCormick held comfortably.

County made another change at half time to tighten up as a unit with Jebb replacing Green. County started the half well with some better approach play and intelligent runs into space. County worked a couple of decent moves into space from the left and right channel to find Myrie-Williams and Healey respectively but they were closed down quickly by the Plymouth defence. Plymouth made the next substitution, a tactical change with right back Miller replaced by Donaldson who went into an attacking right midfield role. Carey continued to be the main source of creativity for Plymouth but the County defence did well to keep him at arms-length. On 57 minutes, Carey hit an somewhat opportunist effort from distance which went well over the bar with frustration starting to show for the hosts. County created a decent move on the break on 60 minutes with Tozer doing well to stifle play and find the run of Sheehan down the middle in acres of space but he somewhat delayed his effort from 25 yards striking it wide of the right post. Plymouth made another change soon after with Goodwillie replaced by Rooney. Plymouth made efforts to pick up the tempo of their game with Rooney injecting some energy but they could only test County keeper with some shots from distance which were well held low down. The game became increasingly laboured but County still had to marshal some of the threat from Plymouth on the right flank. On 72 minutes, Bennett was booked for checking Jervis when he made strong run down the right side. Plymouth pushed more men forward in the final 15 minutes and County some enjoyed some space in behind. On 78 minutes, County had a decent chance when Myrie-Williams did well to track back and retrieve possession. He threaded a great ball down the left side of the area to pick out Healey who had peeled off Bradley but his effort from an acute angle was well held by McCormick. County became increasingly threatening with some good moves on the left side and Tanner was booked on 80 minutes for a reckless challenge on Barnum-Bobb who made a strong run from deep. Tanner was replaced soon after by Fletcher but it was County who looked the most likely winner with Healey enjoying some space in behind especially down the right side. On 82 minutes, Healey did well to carry his run in behind left back Threlkeld who got caught the wrong side of his man. Healey was quick to get his shot but blasted over from 16 yards when he should have worked the keeper. Healey was replaced soon after by Marlon Jackson who offered an aerial outlet in the final minutes of the match with Plymouth pressing. On 87 minutes, Myrie-Williams did well to force a move on the left side of the area from a swift counter attack. He clipped back a decent cross which flashed deep but Tozer anticipated well with a late run but his difficult volley from 14 yards went just past the left corner of post and bar. Plymouth forced a couple of free kicks entering injury time which County dealt well with and they were bold on the counter attack. On 92 minutes, Plymouth left back Threlkeld did well to support a move and come inside on his right foot to provide a cross which was glanced on but Jervis saw his header well saved low down in the right corner by Day. County had a couple of reasonable situations on the break with Plymouth committed but the final ball was just about intercepted but they held on for a well deserved draw that looked unlikely at one stage

Day (8) — not overworked by any means but just gave assurance with safe handling and claiming shots and crosses competently. Kicked well under pressure

Barnum-Bobb (7) — after getting early booking for jumping into a challenge he adapted well. Showed some great discipline and read danger well to close down

Butler (7) — had a bit of a rush to his head with his booked challenge but kept concentration well working tirelessly to close down the flanks and clear effectively

Bennett (8) — commanded defence well and organised superbly. Dominated largely in the air and apart from his booking he was immaculate with his tackles

Meite (7) — easing his way back to match fitness. Was solid in the air and strong fending off challenges and apart from one or two misplaced passes did very well 
 Green (5) — showed promise early on with some forceful runs testing left back but once Rigg was sent off did not comfortable defending and was replaced half time by:

Jebb (7) — made midfield and defensively side more compact. Worked hard to track and stop Carey playing and was bright but effective with the ball

Sheehan (6) — quiet game today and forced deeper after sending off but kept plugging away. Misplaced several of his passes but did threaten late on picking holes

Tozer (7) — did well in the air and timed several important challenges across the face of the area. Worked tirelessly and grew into the game seeing more ball late on

Rigg (6) — had some bright moments before his unfortunate red card seeing ball early in the middle

O’Hanlon (6) — worked hard to win aerial duals across the line and did his best to link before he took a knock in an aerial challenge and was replaced by:

Myrie-Williams (7) — his best game in a County shirt, worked hard supporting box to box. Kept discipline and provided some decent crosses when space opened up

Healey (7) — disappointing first half playing back to goal too much but grew into game carrying his runs into space and with better shooting may have nicked game

SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
 Strengths — they were composed and passed neatly but despite some sporadic breaks down the left flank first half showed little evidence

Weaknesses — left back was vulnerable when ran at, centre backs switched off occasionally and offered little cutting threat leaving gaps late on down the middle

Opportunities — they worked the left flank early in the game exploiting space left in behind by County. Took off defender second half to bolster midfield.
 Threats — best moves went through Carey with his clever link play. Smith made some late supporting runs into box. Jervis strength and pace carrying ball right side

OFFICIALS
 J Brooks (3) — worst referee this season. Started waving cards inside the first couple of minutes, interpretation of red card very questionable and missed a worse lunge

MAN OF THE MATCH
 Scott Bennett — lead well and won his duals, knitted defence together and was key after sending off with positional play and organisation.

IF YOU WERE GRAEME WESTLEY WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

If County had not gained a draw from this it would have been a huge travesty. They responded well after the sending off incident and despite not getting the call with several decisions they kept their discipline well and refused to lie down. Carey was the main creative instigator for Plymouth this time playing on the left side first half but County grew accustomed to this threat and played better after the break as a team. After Green was replaced they were most compact and came alive in the latter stages of the game in which they could have pinched a win. Plymouth were quite patient in their approach and would expect them to be more direct in the replay using the suspended Slew as a battering ram. Often today they overplayed and gave County time to get men behind the ball and squash their possession. County did show capability of more to come in the replay picking holes well down the middle and both centre backs looked suspect to lapses of concentration. Plymouth were missing two strikers and their regular left back but the key in replay will be to match them physically and make their set pieces work better. County now pay attention back to the league knowing that they will need to tame a different animal with Stevenage likely to more direct, more confrontational and less patient.

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