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Match Report


Posted Thu 18 Jul 13 at 05:33 AM

Newport 2
Yakubu 28
Crow 36

United 1
Azeez 59

TORQUAY United performed superbly and came away with nothing on a cruel day for the Gulls.

Apart from two fairly innocuous goals from Ismail Yakubu and Danny Crow in the first half, Newport were completely outplayed on their own patch by a determined Yellow display.

Debutant Adebayo Azeez pulled one back for the dominant Gulls on 59 minutes but Newport somehow survived the day to hold on for three very fortunate points.

United manager Alan Knill was forced into a change of system after a knee injury sustained on the training ground ruled out talismanic Australian defender Aaron Downes. Tom Cruise shifted inside from full-back to make his first professional start as a centre-back and Kevin Nicholson was recalled to the vacant left-back slot.

It was perhaps the inexperience of Cruise in such a crucial position that prompted Knill’s change to a more protective 4-5-1 formation, with holding midfielder Damon Lathrope drafted into the engine room. Striker Karl Hawley, therefore, dropped to a bench that also contained Azeez, a new signing on loan from Charlton.

Despite being slightly more defensive on paper, the Gulls were looking to in-form wingers Billy Bodin and Jordan Chapell to continue where they left off in last weekend’s superb 4-2 win over Cheltenham.

Newport boss Justin Edinburgh also made two changes after his side enjoyed an excellent 2-0 victory at Exeter seven days ago. Billy Jones and former Gull Chris Zebroski were left out for Tony James and Crow.

United were first out of the blocks in South Wales, as a swift turn and cross from Chapell was aimed toward Callum Ball at the back post, only for Harry Worley to conjure up a fine clearance under heavy pressure.

The next Yellow move started down the left, where Nicholson, who requested a loan move earlier in the week, sought to quickly re-establish his first-team credentials with a decent run that resulted in a corner.

Newport cleared the set-piece with ease but the major positive for United in the opening 15 minutes was the lack of threat on Martin Rice’s goal, and a solid start for the new-look defence.

If anything, the Gulls were looking more dangerous and a fine pass from Ben Harding picked out Ball for a cross deflected into the arms of grateful County goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley.

United switched their attack to the right flank on 25 minutes, with Dale Tonge and Lee Mansell combining nicely for an eventual cross by the skipper aimed at Bodin, but Worley did well to head away the danger.

From nowhere, United gave away a poor goal from a simple set-piece. A routine corner was drifted toward the back post and Yakubu rose for a free header past the exposed Rice. It was a hugely disappointing moment for the Gulls and totally against the run of play.

The Yellow response was a determined burst from Chapell but when a half-chance fell to Ball, he was unable to test Pidgeley and the Gulls needed to turn their impressive approach play into clear-cut opportunities.

Unfortunately, the searing pace of Conor Washington would prove United’s undoing for the second goal, as he streaked into the right channel before cutting the ball back for Crow to crash into the roof of the net from close range.

On the balance of play, the two-goal deficit was more than harsh on Knill’s rejigged side and only the brave goalkeeping of Rice prevented Washington from adding a third that would surely have ended Yellow hopes.

The half ended with the Gulls still spirited in forward areas but Newport were able to resist, despite a low cross from Chapell inches away of finding the back-post run from Bodin. Knill resisted making any changes at the interval but the bench options were particularly enticing from an attacking perspective.

It was Newport, however, who started brighter in the second period and United needed a terrific back-post clearance from Krystian Pearce to maintain hopes of a fight-back for the Gulls at Rodney Parade.

Although passing the ball nicely, the Gulls were briefly lacking urgency in the final third and Knill turned to his bench for a debut to Azeez, who was introduced in place of the hardworking Chapell.

Pidgeley was finally called into action by the left-foot of Tonge, cutting inside from his right-back position for a decent shot and the former Chelsea, Watford and Exeter custodian did very well to keep his side two goals ahead.

It wouldn't last, as United were soon right back in the game and a brilliant start to his Yellow career for Azeez, exchanging passes with Harding before squeezing a superb finish past Pidgeley - it was suddenly game on again.

Full credit to Knill for an inspired substitution and the Gulls thoroughly deserved a route back into proceedings, and a header from Pearce had Newport briefly panicking from a corner moments later.

Newport were under siege and a wonderful chance for the head of Bodin narrowly missed the target after yet more good work down the right from a rampaging Tonge. Referee Iain Williamson compounded the misery for Bodin by booking the Welsh winger for diving with the Gulls screaming for a penalty.    

Edinburgh attempted to change the momentum by removing Crow and Michael Flynn for Zebroski and Tom Naylor, but it remained United who were on top. This time, Harding was denied by a fine block from the home defence.

While the Gulls continued to pour forward, there was always a concern that Newport would counter and the pace of Washington remained a serious threat, but Cruise was equal to the challenge with a fine tackle 20 minutes from time.

Another Yellow defender worthy of mention was Pearce, who was enjoying an awesome afternoon in the heart of the United backline, providing a platform for the Gulls to pile forward in search of an equaliser.

Hawley replaced Ball for the final push and the new man immediately had a shot on goal, which was well fielded by Pidgeley. At the other end, Newport had hopeful penalty claims waved away after Washington tumbled in the box.

The home side made their final change of the day with Ryan Jackson replacing Willmott, while Elliot Benyon was brought on for the Gulls, with Tonge the man removed, as United changed to three at the back and three strikers on the pitch.

The impressive Azeez then twisted his full-back and fed the ball across for Pearce, forward from a set-piece, but the big defender was denied with his stabbed effort at goal.

United were handed four minutes of injury-time to salvage the point their overall display more than warranted but a last-ditch header for Benyon failed to trouble Pidgeley, and Newport survived the onslaught, despite Azeez shooting inches wide with the final kick.

[3-5-2]: 1 Lenny Pidgeley; 6 Ismail Yakubu, 22 Harry Worley, 5 Tony James; 2 David Pipe [capt], 7 Adam Chapman, 12 Robbie Willmott [18 Ryan Jackson 83], 17 Michael Flynn [19Tom Naylor 63], 3 Andrew Hughes; 9 Danny Crow [11 Chris Zebroski 63], 14 Conor Washington. Substitutes [not used]: 16 Billy Jones, 25 Jamie Stephens [GK].

Willmott 72

[4-5-1]: 13 Martin Rice; 2 Dale Tonge [26 Elliot Benyon 83], 5 Krystian Pearce, 21 Thomas Cruise, 3 Kevin Nicholson; 12 Jordan Chapell [23 Adebayo Azeez 54], 7 Lee Mansell [capt], 6 Damon Lathrope, 8 Ben Harding, 10 Billy Bodin; 16 Callum Ball [9 Karl Hawley 77]. Substitutes [not used]: 11 Courtney Cameron, 20 Nathan Craig, 31 Daniel Sullivan, 33 Conor Thompson [GK].

Lathrope 17, Bodin 61

Iain Williamson


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