Weary County lack killer instinct

Report by Mark Vickery from Rodney Parade

Newport County 0

Stevenage 2 (Jones own goal 9, Pett 39)

Attendance: 1,877


Newport County dLLWWWWDWD


 Stevenage have had some good results on the road despite letting in the three last weekend, County will need to stifle their attacking threat

 Mild, low cloud and damp but calm with little breeze. Pitch continues to degrade with more sand applied

 Switched off with some charitable defending and lacked cutting edge to punish

 Soft goal just before half time gave Stevenage the platform they needed

 County made four changes to freshen the pack with Paul Bignot returning after suspension. He went right back with Jazzi Barnum-Bobb right midfield with Jordan Green sacrificed to the bench. Darren Jones returned to the side after his suspension replacing Abdoulaye Meite who was name as a substitute. County also drafted in Jack Jebb into central midfield in place of Shaun Rigg who was suspended and with Josh O’Hanlon suffering from a knock Jennison Myrie-Williams played left wing. County set up with 4–4–1–1 formation with Sheehan supporting Healey as the lone man up front. County started positively with Jebb instigating a good move down the middle with a threaded pass for Healey inside two minutes but Wilkinson was on hand to make an important interception. Stevenage were lively coming forward with McKirdy and Kennedy making some strong supporting runs and County had to be alive to deal with some danger on the Stevenage right. County had a decent opportunity on 7 minutes when a good pass down the middle by Sheehan split the Stevenage defence and Healey carried his run across the goal but delayed his shot just enough for Wells to get an important block in. Stevenage continued to work their right channel with Henry and Pett combining well. On 9 minutes, County lost the ball cheaply with Myrie-Williams trying to play too much football inside his own half. Stevenage who quick to exploit with Pett and McKirdy working in tandem before the low opportunist shot was deflected past Day by the outstretched leg of Jones. County responded with some moves on the both flanks with both Barnum-Bobb on the right side and Myrie-Williams seeing plenty of the ball. County had a couple of decent situations but indecision or poor quality allowed Stevenage off the hook. County were quick to use Healey as an outlet and he made several good runs to work and turn the Stevenage defence but they remained organised in dealing with the ball in behind. County were awarded a couple of free kicks in decent areas with Stevenage happy to clamber and stifle play. On 20 minutes, a free kick from the left side of the pitch was anticipated well with a strong aerial header by Tozer which went just wide of the right post from 12 yards. Healey continued to work hard to shield the ball and take a free kick or two for his troubles but the referee continued to show leniency with Wells and Wilkinson pulling at will. County had a great chance to equalise on 26 minutes when they swept forward after a Stevenage move broke down on the right channel. Barnum-Bobb did well to penetrate ghosting past Franks and his deep cross found Myrie-Williams who was left unmarked. He showed hesitancy not hitting a first time shot but then failed to work the keeper with a shot from 12 yard wide of the right post. It was a let off but County continued to get into some decent situations with the endeavour they put in down the flanks. On 32 minutes, Healey did well with a strong run on the right side of the area fending off a challenge from Franks and cut an excellent ball back from the byline but somehow the cross eluded late runs from Myrie-Williams and Sheehan. Jones then went close with a forceful supporting run on the deep inside the right side of the area and his snapshot was parried away well by keeper Jones. Stevenage remained a threat when they got forward with Pett clever with the ball at his feet and Schumacher quick to the loose ball. On 39 minutes, Schumacher stole possession well and hit a powerful low drive which Day could only push into the path of McKirdy. His shot was saved and the follow up header was only half cleared by Bennett but Pett reacted quickest to squeeze the ball over the line. County pushed on and had a couple of corners on the stroke of half time but Stevenage keeper Jones remained untested with a Sheehan effort wide of the left post the best on offer.

County made a double substitution at half time to pep up their approach with Jebb replaced by Owen-Evans and Butler replaced by Marlon Jackson. County adjusted with Bignot going left back and Barnum-Bobb dropping back to right back. County had a reasonable chance on 48 minutes from a more direct ball down the middle which caught Stevenage napping and with no header forthcoming the ball sat up but Jackson could only thrash his tame effort wide of the right post. Stevenage had used the right side as a good outlet on the break first half but their approach became even more telegraphed helping the ball in behind to test Bignot who struggled to clear under pressure. When County could get forward they still looked effective with Healey and Sheehan picking holes and Franks was booked on 50 minutes for pulling back Healey as he threatened down the middle. Myrie-Williams continued to enjoy plenty of the ball and a more decisive move on 53 minutes should really have paid dividends. Myrie-Williams got outside right back Henry near the byline and low cross into the six yard box was stabbed just wide of the right post by Healey. On 55 minutes, another move down the right side by Stevenage left County exposed and Owen-Evans was coaxed into a late tackle on Schumacher. From the resultant free kick, County left centre back Wilkinson unmarked and it was surprise to see the header drift just wide of the right post. County remained positive with some darting runs on the right side by Barnum-Bobb to work left back Franks. On 60 minutes, Barnum-Bobb was unlucky went he cut inside from the right flank across the face of the edge and he goalbound effort deflected by Wilkinson. Stevenage persisted with using the right side to relieve pressure and Bennett was booked for a late challenge on Pett near the right touchline. County became increasingly anxious defending their left channel struggling to provide any depth with their distribution and Stevenage were close to a third on 63 minutes when Pett whipped in a decent first time cross which McKirdy read well and his hooked effort from 10 yards was pushed away comfortably by Day. Healey had another player in the book on 65 minutes with conviction to be direct and bold with his runs with King cynically scything him down. From the free kick, Bignot chipped in a decent delivery which Jones bravely contested ahead of the keeper but his glancing header from 10 yards went over the bar. County then had a perfect chance to punish Stevenage when a poor throw by the keeper was snatched by Jones on the right side of the pitch. He raced forward into the area but took the option of slipping a pass inside which was intercepted by Wilkinson when he should really have found the net. Stevenage made a change soon after with Cowans replaced by Lee who predicably went to the right channel. County were forced to defend a couple of corners with their challenge somewhat flagging and Stevenage assumed control of the game. County made a change on 72 minutes with Tozer replacing by Labadie which saw them regain some impetus for a time but quality was lacking in the final third. Despite having less possession, Stevenage continued to offer the more threat with McKirdy glancing a Pett cross just wide of the left post on 75 minutes. On 78 minutes, Wilkinson was finally booked for pulling back Jackson who threatened to forge his way down the middle of the pitch from a more decisive move. Stevenage made another change on 82 minutes when Liburd replaced McKirdy. County were unable to sustain their pressure and Stevenage road out the final stages without too much trouble working the ball into their right corner with ease. Stevenage made a final change with McAnuff replacing Pett and despite five minutes of injury time for time wasting County were unable to work the keeper.

Day (6) — had the make a couple of smart instinctive saves and unable to hold shot which lead to the second. Distribution was erratic often overplayed his kicks

Bignot (5) — did alright at right back and contributed to some good moves first half but looked vulnerable when he switched. Weak in the air and with clearances

Barnum-Bobb (7) — did well in the first and his industry created the best chances. Saw less of him after the break when forced back but defended well in main

Butler (5) — put under pressure by right wing Pett and failed to get in tackle on first goal. Struggles for consistency and left back and was replaced at half time by:

Owen-Evans (6) — couldn’t fault his efforts, was prepared to challenge and worked hard to carry ball but left firefighting too much to effect game

Bennett (6) — generally dominated in the air and was alert to the danger despite not making his usual quota of challenges and winning his 50–50s

Jones (5) — passed well from the back but was slow to clear on times letting man get across him too easily and should have done better on second goal 
 Myrie-Williams (4) — at fault with first goal and just not alert enough today often lazy in support and brushed off too easily when competing. Missed the best chance

Jebb (6) — broke up play well and had some good spells with the ball at his feet to supply a neat and assumption was that he was replaced with an injury by:

Jackson (6) — did alright in the air to work defenders and had a couple of chances that were snatched at. When he span off and got facing goalside much more effective

Sheehan (6) — finding less space and joy around the edge of the area. Made some energetic runs and competed well but faded later in the game

Tozer (7) — shifted ball well when he got it and was well positioned with his defending but spent too much time chasing ball in the air and not enough grip of the ball

Healey (7) — effective for two thirds of the match until he tired. Overworked again today when other failed to take responsibility and just needs to get quicker shot in

 Strengths — they played to the conditions, clearing effectively and were bold in the box with their runs. Worked hard to close down and give no respite.

Weaknesses — both full backs were ordinary and the centre backs prone to pulling when turned for lack of pace. Happy to help ball in behind on times

Opportunities — they organised several moves down the right channel and never really changed their tact to turn players at every opportunity
 Threats — Pett was tricky to tackle and provided some decent crosses. McKirdy was alive in the area and slick with his passes. Wilkinson headers on set pieces

 K Johnson (6) — generally consistent getting key decisions right. took his time to book both Stevenage centre backs and let much of the pulling go.

 Tom Pett — was intelligent with his runs and always an outlet for Stevenage when they needed it. Provided several chances from quality crosses


County needed to make some changes today to freshen their pack and will continue to do so with 3 games in seven days but the ingredients seem to be missing with both goals coming from charitable mistakes. Understandably, County went with changes made off the bench on Saturday but too many players tonight had little influence or effect on the game and more concerning County have scored one goal in the last four games. Myrie-Williams failed to work the keeper having been in advanced positions on several occasions and despite Healey working the defenders further up the pitch, his threat inside the area was squashed. County need to quickly get their heads in gear because they have the ability and enterprise but their game is being impaired by indecision. On times tonight, the side looked weary in mind and body after the hard game on the weekend, County were unable sustain their pressure and tempo often letting Stevenage off the hook. The pitch continues to deteriorate at Rodney Parade and they will need to prepare themselves for physical duals in the forthcoming weeks. They may well need to play a percentage game and force other sides to make mistakes but today the lost too many of those 50–50s battles when they needed to get across their opposite man. Next up is Morecambe who have had an appetite historically for playing at Rodney Parade using the width of the pitch to their benefit. County need to dog it out, stop the crosses, be more dynamic and ruthless when they get the opportunity

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.