Hard-earned point is another plus for County
THIS was a match that will have lived literally minutes in the memory of everyone who witnessed it.
But Newport County AFC won’t care about the entertainment value, or lack of it, as they bring a hard-earned point back to South Wales.
Win your home games and pick up points on the road is the old adage and County are following it to the tee of late.
And one glance at the League Two table will show that this was a valuable point for the Exiles as they slip to ninth in the table but remain just a point outside the play-off places.
Manager Justin Edinburgh was delighted with the result at the start of a week with three tough away trips, and rightly so.
His side can go to Crawley Town in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday in confident mood after another clean sheet on the road.
And, more importantly, the return trip to the North West next Saturday to face Rochdale doesn’t look quite so daunting after they lost 3-0 at struggling Portsmouth.
That result sets up the meeting of the two sides at Spotland perfectly as County are now just a point behind Keith Hill’s men.
It could have been different, of course, if the Shakers had taken their chances at Gigg Lane.
Kevin Blackwell’s side were on top for all of the first half and and a lot of the second period but they failed to really test Lenny Pidgeley in the County goal.
Marco Navas wasted the hosts’ best opportunity midway through the first half when he was picked out, completely unmarked, ten yards from goal by Tom Soares.
But the Spaniard showed none of the composure of his younger brother Jesus – the Manchester City and Spain superstar – as he fluffed the free header and Pidgeley watched with relief as it sailed wide of his left-hand post.
Bury always looked likely to take advantage of some slack defending from the visitors but, other than that Navas chance, their final ball let them down.
The Exiles' only real first half chance saw Danny Crow spin in the crowded six-yard box and hook his shot wide just after Navas’ big moment.
Blackwell was adamant that his side should have won the game and that County only came for a point and tried to spoil the game.
But Edinburgh’s half-time formation change from 5-3-2 to 4-3-3 with striker Chris Zebroski replacing defender Tony James makes a mockery of that claim.
That tactical switch was a clear statement of intent from the County manager. He believed his side could win the game and it certainly made for a much more open and entertaining second half.
It’s all relative, however. It was by no means like watching Brazil v Italy 1970 after the interval.
But the change did make Edinburgh’s men more of a threat up front with Zebroski making a big impact and helping to support the isolated Conor Washington.
It also created a few more gaps at the other end but, try as they might, Bury couldn’t make the Newport defence collapse like a Chartist mural.
Ex-Crystal Palace and Stoke City man Soares almost broke the deadlock just before the hour but his clipped effort went the wrong side of Pidgeley’s near post, or the right side from a County viewpoint.
At the other end Lee Minshull, back from his three-game ban in place of Robbie Willmott, had his side’s best chance but his header was tipped over by ex-Burnley stopper Brian Jensen with nine minutes remaining.
As the minutes ticked away and the home crowd’s frustration grew they saw their side waste a glorious four on three break after a slip from Pidgeley.
And the impressive Ismail Yakubu put in a fantastic tackle to deny the hosts right at the death as, just like last week against Torquay, County held firm to secure the result they wanted.
Bury: Jensen, Beeley, Cameron, Edjenguele, Mustoe, Navas (Jones, 66), Proctor, Miller (Mayor, 82), Soares, Sinnott, Forrester (Harrad, 71)
Subs not used: Hinds, Holden, Sedgwick, Cook
County: Pidgeley, Pipe, James (Zebroski, 46), Yakubu, Worley, Hughes, Flynn (Naylor, 76), Chapman, Minshull, Crow (Willmott, 85), Washington
Subs not used: Jones, Jackson, Stephens
Booked: Worley, Flynn
Referee: Richard Clark
Attendance: 3,093 (226 County)
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