Newport County ’s dream start to their Blue Square Bet Conference campaign continued unabated last night as they hammered Nuneaton 4-0.
It was the perfect opening night for County at their new home, the rugby pantheon of Rodney Parade, as they began to paint some football memories at Newport’s premier sporting arena.
A bumper crowd in excess of 2,600 was almost a win in itself, but once the action got under way there was only ever one side in contention as the Exiles utterly dominated from start to finish, men against boys from the first whistle.
The Exiles couldn’t have hoped for a better display or result at Mansfield and Justin Edinburgh rewarded his troops by keeping an unchanged side 72 hours later. Perhaps the best example of Edinburgh’s radical overhaul of the squad during the summer is the fact that currently Lee Minshull can’t even get a place on the bench, Mike Flynn returning to take his place.
There is a feel-good factor surrounding British sport after London 2012 and that definitely transferred onto the Rodney Parade terraces as the Exiles fans – mostly old, but judging on numbers, some new too – roared their side from the first minute to the last.
County were 2-0 ahead at Mansfield inside 15 minutes on Saturday but this time round it took them almost a quarter of the game to open up such an advantage.
However, it was still a blistering start as the Exiles tore forward, overlapping full-backs David Pipe and Andy Sandell particularly catching the eye as the Exiles looked full of purpose, power, pace and panache.
A succession of corners and crosses in the opening ten minutes gave Nuneaton plenty of warning,but on 13 minutes they failed to take heed as Sandell’s wicked centre was only half dealt with, allowing Aaron O’Connor time to swivel and smash the ball home low and hard in a crowded box.
It was a predatory finish and six minutes later the advantage was doubled as the Exiles’ other fullback did the damage.
Just 60 seconds after almost scoring himself – goalkeeper Neil Collett made a brave stop with his feet – Pipe burst up the right and provided a pinpoint cross than Jefferson Louis couldn’t really fail to convert with a powerful header. It was the perfect centre from Pipe and just reward for the dominant Exiles.
They perhaps should’ve made it 3-0 on 35 minutes when patient build-up sent Louis clear again but this time he fired over in a spell where Max Porter also came close. Lenny Pidgeley in the County goal was a virtual spectator.
The visitors needed to start well after the break to make this game competitive but it was only eight minutes into the second period when the Exiles killed the contest.
It was a scrappy strike in that O’Connor barely found the net from two yards, but the build-up play involving Porter, Pipe and Louis was sublime.
Pipe continued to torment the visiting left back Steve O’Halloran and his cross almost gave Porter a fourth.
On the hour the visitors did finally manage a shot but Danny Sleath’s effort hit the crossbar and bounced over. It was as close as they came.
However, it was County who looked more likely to add to their tally, a powerful drive on the spin from Danny Crow brilliantly beaten away by Collett after Flynn almost scored with his first touch.
Crow isn’t in his element on the left of a front three but the fluidity and movement between O’Connor, Louis and Crow impressed throughout and they always looked menacing.
Louis is already on his way to being Rodney Parade’s first footballing cult hero.
It was Crow’s turn to impress with five minutes remaining, he shaped to shoot but instead dinked a perfect pass into the feet of the advancing Lee Evans, the youngster crashing home his first senior goal a couple of weeks after his 18th birthday.
It sparked wild celebration and predictable chants. “We’re Newport County, we always score four.”
And it might be early days, but the Exiles are sitting pretty atop of the Conference.
County: Pidgeley, Pipe, Tony James (Hughes 46), Yakubu, Sandell, Thomson (Flynn 69), Porter, Evans, O’Connor (Harris 72), Louis, Crow Subs not used: Charles, J Perry Booked: None
Nuneaton: Collett, Carwright, Dean, Walker (Perry, 76), Brown, Armson, Sleath, Gordon, Tom James (York 46), Thompson-Brown (Patterson 46), O’Halloran Subs not used: Nisevic, York, K Perry, Adams, Patterson Booked: None
Ref: Brett Huxtable (Torrington)
Attendance: 2646 (150 approx, away)
Argus star man: David Pipe