NEWPORT County AFC were forced to settle for a share of the spoils in Hampshire last night as their fine-tuning for the new campaign continued.
County were never at their best against their old sparring partners from the Conference South but will be pleased with a good workout on a decent surface as they move towards the big kick-off against Wycombe on August 9.
Newport trailed the hosts and might have lost this one late-on, but ensured they remained unbeaten in pre-season thanks to a goal from Aaron O’Connor on the half hour.
With the sun blazing down in Hampshire, it was a wonder that the Exiles were seemingly so reluctant to arrive, an unforeseen three hour trip ensuring a delayed kick-off at the former Camrose Stadium.
Basingstoke are moving with the times and have enjoyed a high profile week, entertaining a host of Football League clubs and renaming their ground to the Soccer AM Stadium after a commercial partnership that will see Helen and the gang on Sky Sports featuring Basingstoke regularly next term.
And the Exiles being on a time delay wasn’t just the case on the M4, because Newport started the game like they were in a Sleeping Beauty sized slumber, conceding the lead with the first chance of the contest on ten minutes.
It was very much a goal of their own making, Andrew Hughes and Ismail Yakubu too slow and hesitant with the hosts punishing them fully, working the ball expertly to Chris Flood who showed fine composure to beat Lenny Pidgeley.
The Exiles were keeping plenty of possession and dictating the pace as they looked for a response, but they were restricted in terms of presentable chances, Yakubu heading over the best of them from Mark Byrne’s centre.
The game meandered for a while as these type of affairs tend to, but Newport equalised on the half hour when Rene Howe found time and space, his shot intercepted a couple of yards out by Aaron O’Connor who tapped home.
The equaliser was deserved and only saw Newport push on, O’Connor and Andrew Hughes both with chances before the break to put County in front, but they couldn’t hit the target.
However, Newport started the second period much as they did the first, their prosaic nature almost giving the hosts a goal, only for Darren Jones to produce a superb goal-line clearance.
However, they did settle after that despite the usual raft of substitutions and pressured Basingstoke for a spell, but the hosts held firm to ensure a share of the spoils and might’ve won it in the last minute, only denied by a superb Lenny Pidgeley save and the woodwork in a frantic final 60 seconds.
County: (4-3-3): Pidgeley, Willmott, Hughes, Jones, Yakubu, Chapman, Byrne, Klukowski, Howe, O’Connor, Jeffers
Subs: Sandell, Feely, Anthony, Minshull, Jolley, Zebroski, Patten, Parker
Newport County’s youth team continued their impressive pre-season form yesterday with a 6-2 away victory at Football League Youth Alliance rivals Swindon Town.
The hosts included three players who had played for the Swindon first team against Premier League Southampton on Monday night.
County’s goals came courtesy of Sam James, Ben Brooks, Joe Ward, Nathan Woods, Aaron Collins and Ebbie Marango.
Development coach Michael Flynn described County’s win as a “quality performance” with “excellent pressing and finishing”.
The youth team travel again to take on Undy Athletic on Friday night in their latest pre-season friendly.