Exiles are hospitable off the field, not on it

Exiles are hospitable off the field, not on it

Newport County v AFC Carl Zeiss JenaGoal. Darren Jones goes up with Chris Zebroski to score the winning goal (8632169)

Newport County v AFC Carl Zeiss JenaGoal. Darren Jones celebrates his winning goal (8632171)

Newport County v AFC Carl Zeiss JenaMark Byrne and Chris Zebroski battle for the ball (8632132)

Newport County v AFC Carl Zeiss JenaAaron O'Connor shoots at the Jena goal (8632147)

Newport County v AFC Carl Zeiss JenaNewport greats on show (8632154)

First published in Sport
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South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

NEWPORT County were generous hosts for Carl Zeiss Jena but Exiles boss Justin Edinburgh was delighted that his defence wasn't in a giving mood at Spytty Park.

The hosts triumphed thanks to a second half header by Darren Jones but that strike was merely a bonus; it was what the centre back did at the other end that was most impressive.

The League Two opener against Wycombe is rapidly approaching and the 30-year-old appears to be forming a mightily impressive partnership with Kevin Feely.

The pair were up against 6ft 4ins Polish forward Jakub Wi?zik, a man cut from the same cloth as giant former Czech Republic striker Jan Koller.

Yet they dealt with him expertly and helped the Exiles earn a fourth clean sheet of pre-season.

With Mark Byrne in front of them and keeper Lenny Pidgeley behind, the pair looked sound all afternoon but it was a 'new' right back that former Spurs full back Edinburgh singled out.

"Robbie Willmott was the best player on the pitch and is making the right back position his own at the minute," he said. "And the whole back four was very solid."

Three of them were involved in the only goal of the game 18 minutes into the second half.

Converted winger Willmott was fouled and probably would have been shown red rather than yellow in the league for shoving the perpetrator to the ground.

Up stepped left back Andy Sandell to swing in a perfect ball that found Jones unmarked six yards out. He made no mistake.

County should have enjoyed a more comfortable victory – "I'd like a bit more cutting edge in the final third," admitted Edinburgh – and were good value for victory on a stifling afternoon.

Like at the World Cup in the Brazilian heat, the teams enjoyed 'cooling breaks' but the conditions led to a slightly pedestrian game.

It was a good occasion courtesy of sizeable Carl Zeiss Jena contingent among the 2,630 crowd but it wasn't edge-of-your-seat stuff.

However, for Edinburgh the prime concern wasn't marking a friendship with old Cup Winners' Cup foes from 1981, it was getting minutes in the legs of his players ahead of their return to Rodney Parade to test out the new pitch against the Wanderers.

Eight of them got the full 90 and expect those that weren't involved to have a long shift against Coventry on Tuesday evening.

"It was another good workout in difficult conditions because of the heat," said the manager, who was without midfielder Adam Chapman because of sunstroke.

"I thought that we were good value for the win and we are progressing as we go through pre-season.

"A lot of players are starting to go through the gears and I was really pleased, plus we got through without any injuries.

"It was an excellent occasion, their hospitality and kindness was very good when we went out there (for a friendly last year) and we repaid that."

Neither keeper was made to work up a sweat in the first half.

Jena right winger Maxim Banaskiewicz shot just past the left post after a swift counter-attack for the visitors and Feely headed narrowly wide from Sandell's well-delivered free-kick but there wasn't a great deal of drama.

Chris Zebroski's tame shot forced Raphael Koczor into a first (routine) save early in the second half and the Exiles started to apply pressure with Christian Jolley just failing to connect with Mark Byrne's whizzed-in cross from the left and Aaron O'Connor nodding just wide.

Then came the breakthrough and County continued to press, with O'Connor failing to make the game safe after missing the target following a powerful break and cross down the left by substitute striker Rene Howe.

It proved to be a quiet afternoon for Exiles keeper Lenny Pidgeley, who was only pressed into action when providing a towel to protect the modesty of a pitch invader who decided that it was too hot for clothes.

And with their defensive unit in good shape, County managed to reverse the Somerton Park scoreline from 33 years ago.

County: Pidgeley, Willmott, Feely, Jones, Sandell (captain), Byrne, Flynn (Patten 84), Minshull (Y Klukowski 60), Jolley (R Howe 75), Zebroski, OConnor.

Goal: Jones (63)

Yellow card: Willmott

Carl Zeiss Jena: Koczor, Klippel, Grosch (captain), Banaskiewicz, Wiezik, Schmidt (Brinkmann 70), Bock, Loser, Lux (Jovanovic 75), Strohl, Becken.

Referee: Mark Whitby

Attendance: 2,630

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