Justin Edinburgh happy with County progress
MANAGER Justin Edinburgh believes the Exiles are on track as they reach half time in their preparations for the new campaign.
The Exiles can now look forward to four successive home friendlies after four away ones following Saturday’s 3-1 reverse at Richmond Park against Welsh Premier League side Carmarthen Town.
In truth the scoreline slightly flattered the hosts as County missed several second-half chances in a competitive clash.
With bright sunshine, this was an archetypal friendly against a side that boasted familiar faces, with former Exiles Craig Hughes and Ian Hillier both performing with distinction.
At 31 years old Hughes in particular caught the eye, rolling home a disputable penalty after Danny Thomas and Leon Jeanne gave the hosts a 2-0 half time lead. Jake Harris crashed home a consolation goal.
Edinburgh was happy enough with what he’d seen, even though he admitted there is plenty of work to be done before Newport’s next away game at Field Mill against Mansfield when the season proper gets under way on August 11.
“It felt like proper pre-season, sunshine, the grass cut too long and I felt there were a lot of positives,” he said.
“The way we started was good, we had good possession and we conceded two excellent goals and a debatable penalty.
“The competitiveness and passing was good but I felt in the final third we were a little bit lacking.”
Edinburgh fielded the usual blend of trialists and first team players and was delighted by the contribution of one man in particular.
“Tony James returned from injury and played 90 minutes and that was a massive boost. He did well too,” he said.
“We can improve our quality in attack and with our creativity but overall it was a good game to have.
“We’ve got to half time now in pre-season. We wanted to win this one, you want to win every game, but I feel it’ll serve us well with the home games coming up.”
Edinburgh was especially pleased with how his side responded to a dramatic week behind the scenes at the club following chairman Chris Blight’s resignation.
“I think football-wise we haven’t been affected in the dressing room or on the training ground, the players haven’t let it be an influence and it has been business as usual for us, as it will continue to be. Trust me, I’ve gone through far worse!”
The Exiles will reflect on a game where the quality of the finishing was key.
Good possession didn’t translate to goals in an opening quarter where County were dominant and a fine finish by Danny Thomas put Newport on the back foot.
It was 2-0 just before the break when the most talented player on the pitch Leon Jeanne twisted and turned away from David Pipe and crashed home a curling effort from 20 yards.
Former Cardiff City player Jeanne is an almost criminally wasted talent and will be hoping he can continue his form under ex-County man Mark Aizelwood as on his day he’s clearly still good enough for the Football League.
The former Exiles were also motivated and on a hot day tensions almost boiled over between Hiller and County striker Jefferson Louis, probably the pick of their front three with Danny Crow and Ryan Charles.
Hughes tucked home a spot-kick after Pipe was harshly adjudged to have handled, and in truth he looked by far the best attacker on display for either side. Newport were profligate in their response, trialists Ben Swallow (ex-Bristol Rovers) and David Winters both missing fine chances and Kris Fielding (youth) smacking an upright.
Substitute Jake Harris did pull one back with a power drive but the hosts held firm deservedly.
Carmarthen: Cann, Hillier, Hanford, Evans, Rees, Finselbach, D Thomas, Fowler, Hughes, Christopher, Jeanne
Subs: L Thomas, C Thomas, Palmer, Hood, Hicks, Bevan, Wilson
County: Perry, Pipe, Cooper, Porter, James, Hughes, Thomson, Minshull, Crow, Louis, Charles
Subs: Swallow, Morris, Fielding, Binns, Gwynne, Winters, Jones, Hutson, Swan