Report from Mark Vickery at Rodney Parade
Newport County 1 (Abrahams 74 pen)
Crawley Town 1 (Nathaniel-George 35 pen)
Newport County WLWLDWWWLW
Crawley Town DWDDWLLLWL
Crawley have not been on the best run of form but have had some good results this season so shouldn’t be underestimated.
Mild, cloudy light breeze. Pitch looked in decent condition bit slippery on top.
SUMMING UP OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Flat and lack cohesion first half, but finished stronger with better decision making and use of the ball
County changes at half time injected more impetus.
County kept the same side from the match Saturday adopting 4–4–2 formation with Scott Bennett pushed into holding role in central midfield. The early exchanges were lively with Crawley showing plenty of enthusiasm to get forward when invited. On 2 minutes, former County midfielder Reece Grego-Cox roamed wide right side and cut back a decent cross into the area from a difficult angle which tested the County defence but O’Brien was well positioned to head clear. County responded with some energetic moves which worked the Crawley defence but they were quick to stifle with centre back Dallinson and Tuncliffe pressing high. County were frustrated by a few calls not going for them with Matt given little protection from the clambering and pulling in the final third and this set a precedent for the rest of the half. On 10 minutes, County created a more cohesive move when Haynes contributed well with a bright move to support left side of the area and his pass set up a snapshot for Sheehan from 20 yards but the keeper Morris parried wide of the left post. Crawley maintained their pressing game with both full backs penetrating forward to deny space with right back Sesay bold coming forward but gaps in behind often left. On 12 minutes, Sesay set up an opportunity with a bold run on the right flank and slip a pass inside for Grego-Cox who dragged a low effort wide of the left post from 20 yards. County continued to probe away on the flanks with Willmott more forceful right side linking well with the front two. On 15 minutes, Willmott dinked in a decent cross which Sheehan seized upon before setting up an inviting pass for Labadie but his shot on the turn from 14 yards went tamely back to the keeper. Crawley kept stifling with a five man midfield dropping in to defend but they were nimble coming forward in support of Bloomfield up top. On 17 minutes, Crawley created a bright move left side with left back Doherty getting forward well and his pass inside invited Lubula to shoot but his powerful effort from 30 yards fizzed over the bar. Then on 20 minutes, a quick throw by Crawley left side caught County napping with Doherty finding Grego-Cox and he threaded a pass for Lubula who saw his powerful snapshot deflected over the bar by O’Brien. County continued to struggle to build any sustained momentum with Amond and Matt not always on the same wavelength and it allowed Crawley to count. Crawley were forced to defend a couple of crosses into the area which County got good knock downs but they were slow to anticipate allowing Crawley to clear their lines effectively. Crawley remained positive with some useful counter attacks especially left side involving Doherty. On 35 minutes, Crawley were awarded a penalty for handball when McNamara appeared to have an effort blasted at him from close range. Nathanial-George took the penalty which was chipped somewhat casually right side but did enough just to beat King. Crawley remained in ascendancy as half time approached with County laboured on times with their movement final third which allowed Crawley to break up the danger effectively. On 43 minutes, another bright from deep saw Crawley sweep forward with options through the middle and Allarakhia struck an opportunist effort from 25 yards which was intercepted by Innis.
County made a double substitution at half time to freshen up their pack with Matt replaced by Whitely and Nurse coming on for McNamara with County changing formation to 3–5–2 with Willmott right wing back and Haynes left wing back. The change settled County down with both full backs forcing Crawley to defend deeper with some better tempo to their game. Crawley were forced to scramble away a few crosses into the area and look for more direct play into Bloomfield as an outlet. On 55 minutes, Crawley lost possession deep inside the County half and Nurse did well with a strong run left side before threading a pass inside for Sheehan. He jinked forward and struck a decent effort from 30 yards which Morris parried away and Amond was alive to read the loose ball but his rushed effort went wide of the right post. County kept pushing with some more decisive moves involving Nurse and Haynes left side. On 60 minutes, Nurse drove down the left side and his run was checked crudely by Sesay who booked. From the resultant free kick, Willmott delivered a decent cross which Labadie rose well to head straight at the keeper from 10 yards. County were awarded some corners from a spell of disjointed pressure but their main threat came from deep with Sheehan and Nurse making some raking runs box to box. On 68 minutes, Sheehan was caught late by Grego-Cox who tracked back to defend and also booked. On 73 minutes, County got their reward for persistence with Nurse again pivotal left side in stretching play into the corner. He tricked his way inside near the left side of the area to find a low pass into Sheehan and his tricky run coaxed Allarakhia into a foul and a penalty was awarded. County made a change before the spot kick with Abrahams replacing Labadie and Lubula was booked for dissent. Abrahams confidently took the spot kick with a good finish into the corner. On 76 minutes, a County throw in left side by Haynes caused some anxiety inside the Crawley box and Innis was close when his shot on the turn from 6 yards was saved low in the right corner by Morris. Crawley continued to play on the break when invited flooding players forward but County marshalled the threat better. On 80 minutes, County had a decent chance of their own breaking quickly left side and Nurse set Haynes off on a run before his rasping effort from 30 yards fizzed just over the bar. Crawley made another change moments later with Camara replacing Nathaniel-George to stem the flow County were producing on the left flank. On 85 minutes, a mistake by Innis allowed Crawley to burst forward left side with Doherty finding Camara and despite his effort being blocked from the edge area, Grego-Cox had another opportunity but dragged his effort well wide of theleft post from 25 yards. Grego-Cox was replaced on 87 minutes by Nadesan. County kept plugging away forcing Crawley to defend deeply in the 5 minutes of injury times winning a series of corners. In the fourth minutes of injury time, County were close when a corner from the right side was glanced on well by Innis and Amond hit a shot on the turn from 8 yard inches wide of the right post. Then moments later County, a throw in from the right side by Haynes sat up dangerously deep inside the area and Amond did well to shield and hook the ball towards Abrahams who was unlucky to see his shot strike the left post. Time ran out for County with the having to settle for a point in the end and some tired legs on both sides at the end of the game.
King (6) — wasn’t overworked with just one shot on target, kicked well under pressure first half and saved claiming. Distributed well in general.
Haynes (7) — quite reserved first half but did well when he went wing back combining well with Nurse. Despite being let down with quality on some crosses best moves went through him second half
McNamara (6) — got forced back too much first half playing deep, passed accurately but allowed too much space on times. Replaced at half time by:
Nurse (8) — despite only getting 45 minutes, he was bold and offered energy with several purposeful runs and crosses he put in asked questions. Put right back back into the corner second half.
Inns (7) — strong in the aerial duals and when got the ball moving he did it well. Set up a number of decent opportunities from set pieces and nuisance from throw ins.
O’Brien (7) — did well to deny space and won some good headers, took several knocks from some brave challenges but never shirked responsibility.
Bennett (6) — looked a little leggy second half, got his tackles in and passed well. Made some important interventions when County got exposed first half.
Willmott (7) — started game well and put in fair quota of crosses but forced it too much. Used ball much better second half and had patience and resolve to keep attacking byline when he went wing back
Labadie (6) — continues to get chances in around area but shots were weak, bit flat and lacking usual bite and influence but kept working until he was replaced
Sheehan (7) — worked hard throughout, had spells where was creative and penetrated gaps well. Put in couple of decent efforts from distance and did some good work to unsettle edge of the area.
Amond (7) — did well to provide an outlet especially after Matt went off and won some good headers. Went close a couple of times picking up bits from set pieces and clever link play.
Matt (6) — decisions went against him and got bogged down with back to goal too much loosing ball cheaply on times, replaced at half time by:
Whiteley (6) — gave a different option with energy and worked hard box to box but needs to get more shots in and influence matters final third.
SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths — they were good in transition, using pace well defensively both centre back composed and gave them assurance to push full backs on.
Weaknesses — right back got away several times with bad positional play, they got away with a lot of the pulling and clambering, got few shots to work King despite penetration.
Opportunities — never really changed tact, kept one up front with five man midfield pressing high up the pitch.
Threats — Grego-Cox and Lubala pace and energy with shots from distance. Doherty put in some good quality crosses first half.
D Drysdale (6) — interpretation with the holding down and climbing was frustrating ignoring several honest appeals. Interestingly had a better second half after Matt was replaced showing some parity.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Tom Dallison (Crawley 6) — got away with a lot but saved Crawley time after time with his reading of the game, pick up second balls and dominated the aerial duals.
IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
County were sluggish for large parts of the first half allowing Crawley to snap up the second ball and break on them with ease. County lost their match at Northampton when they allowed their full backs to press high and influence the game too much. However, this time County learnt from that quickly and showed their flexibility to change their tact at half time which gradually turned the game and with more clinical finishing inside the area they would have won tonight. County also had a few players that looked a little leggy tonight from the offset. They will know they need to put in more cohesive first half performances to maintain their position in the league. Nurse had a good game tonight and will be pushing for starting place at Colchester. County can improve on their quality from crosses with several underplayed but when they did pick out players like Innis they were always a threat but were a little slow to read the follow up. Next up is Colchester away who like to push their full backs forward to influence matters and play in a similar set up to Crawley with Morris lone man up top. County need to block the flanks, monitor the runs of Senior through the middle and deal with the industry final third by Nouble who will give them a physical outlet.