Newport County 2-1 Stockport County

The Hatters crossed the border for their first of two league trips into Wales, and saw their record equalling fourth-tier winning run finally come to an end at Newport after a dozen successive victories.

If truth be told, it was not really a case of ‘unlucky 13’, following a battle of the ‘-Port Countys’ in which the Hatters were often second-best to the hosts, whose goals on the stroke of half-time and midway through the second half settled the contest – despite Tanto Olaofe’s late, late strike halving the arrears.

(Stockport) County took to the field on a gloriously sunny, rather crisp, South Welsh afternoon, and showing one change from the starting line-up at Edgeley Park meeting with Colchester a week earlier. Nick Powell was recalled to replace Akil Wright – who was named among the substitutes – and the Hatters reverted to a ‘4-diamond-2’ formation.

Newport, sporting a one-off navy shirt in support of a Motor Neurone Disease charity, launched the contest’s first attack, with Omar Bogle cutting in from the right before a minute was up – but his eventual shot was deflected off the boot of Macauley Southam-Hales and safely caught by Ben Hinchliffe.

The Hatters proceeded to earn a couple of early corners – and following the second of those, delivered by Southam-Hales from the left, Olaofe skewed an effort beyond the far post.

Olaofe won a further corner around the first half’s mid-point, after his shot from the left was deflected behind off James Clarke. The consequential corner – again taken by Cardiff-born Southam-Hales – was eventually recycled to the Welshman, whose delivery back into the box appeared to strike a home hand, although play was waved on by Referee Drysdale without a pause.

With fewer than 10 minutes to go before the interval, the official with the whistle prompted a few minutes’ delay in proceedings when he suffered a cut lip, following a collision with Powell. And as the half in which chances had been at a premium approached added time, a first attempt on target was fashioned – with Kyle Wootton heading a Southam-Hales free-kick straight at home goalkeeper Nick Townsend.

Four additional minutes were announced – and towards the end of the fourth, Newport broke the deadlock, as Shane McLoughlin’s free-kick to the right of the Hatters’ area was squared to the unmarked Bryn Morris, whose first-time shot thundered through a crowded box and into the net.

HALF-TIME: Newport 1 (Morris, 45 + 4), County 0.

The visitors looked to begin the second half as they had ended the first, when a free-kick on the edge of the Hatters’ box was awarded and McLoughlin lined up to take it – but, on this occasion, the delivery was comfortably blocked and cleared by Southam-Hales.

The Hatters counter-attacked with 10 minutes of the new half played, with Ibby Touray crossing from the left for Powell to propel a header into the arms of Townsend. And, just after the hour, they made a triple-substitution – introducing Wright, Jayden Richardson, and Paddy Madden who had scored the winner in the fixture at Rodney Parade the previous season.

But within five minutes of those changes, the hosts doubled their advantage, as an attack was only partially snuffed out and, after Southam-Hales headed the ball away, it fell to McLoughlin who half-volleyed into the top-right corner.

Top Newport scorer Will Evans and substitute Kiban Rai fired shots wide of the left and right posts, respectively, before Southam-Hales lofted a free-kick from the left on to the roof of the home net.

Added time saw Townsend execute a fine double-save at the expense of Will Collar, who sustained a knock in the process – although the home ‘keeper was unable to keep out Olaofe’s scrambled consolation effort in the final minute of play.

FULL-TIME: Newport 2 (Morris, 45 + 4; McLoughlin, 67), County 1 (Olaofe, 90 + 6).

Team (4-1-2-1-2): Hinchliffe; Southam-Hales, Horsfall, Pye, Touray (Richardson, 63); Croasdale (Capt.) (Wright, 63); Collar (Cotterill, 90 + 4), Bailey; Powell (Madden, 63); Olaofe, Wootton.

Unused Subs: Smith, Knoyle, Byrne.

Booked: Touray, Horsfall.

Attendance: 4,053 (604 away).

Reporter: Gareth Evans.

Photographer: Mike Petch.


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