County's fine run ends at Wrexham
So Newport County AFC are not the new Invincibles. More like the Expendables.
Things will get Rocky along the way but hopefully, like Arnie, they’ll be back.
It’s often said that the true test of a good team is how they react to adversity, and if that’s right then we’ll get a pretty good idea of how County’s season is going to go at Dartford tomorrow night.
After the extraordinary high of five successive wins, finished off with a stunning victory over Hereford United, came the disappointment of a deserved defeat at Wrexham on Saturday.
The curse of the manager-of- the-month award struck again as Justin Edinburgh’s men surrendered their 100 per cent record.
Things could have been different if Jefferson Louis had rediscovered his confidence in front of goal but, in truth, the Exiles were second best against their Welsh rivals.
In Adrian Cieslewicz and Jay Harris the Dragons have two exceptional talents, and with too many of their own key men under-performing, County couldn’t match their hosts on the day.
There’s no shame in that, of course. This is a side that earned almost 100 points last season and were very unlucky not to win promotion.
And with Macclesfield Town being hammered at Luton Town, County remain top of the Blue Square Bet Premier by a point.
A haul of 15 points out of 18 available is better than anyone else has managed and beyond most fans’ wildest dreams a month ago.
But expectations have rightly been raised since then and Edinburgh will be looking for a response from his players tomorrow.
He will also be hoping that striker Danny Crow recovers from the knock that kept him out on Saturday.
The former Luton man may not have scored so far this season but his link-up play was sorely missed.
Replacement Ryan Charles found it hard to provide the same movement and vision in his first start of the season.
Things started well with top scorer O’Connor creating a great chance for Louis inside 40 seconds but the big front man headed the cross over Joslain Mayebi’s bar.
Then after 15 minutes the former Wrexham striker delighted the home fans by poking the ball over the bar again after being put through on goal by O’Connor.
It was the sort of chance that Louis would have put away with ease two weeks ago, but he looks like he may be letting his horror miss against Hereford affect his game.
Whatever the reason, with Crow injured, he needs to get his mojo back quickly.
County can’t rely solely on O’Connor to get the goals up front.
After two close calls Wrexham never looked back with Cieslewicz, Harris and Dean Keates dominating the midfield battle against Mike Flynn, Jake Thomson and Max Porter.
Lenny Pidgeley made the first of many great saves when he stopped a Rob Ogleby header from point-blank range.
But he had no chance when Ciewslewicz cut in from the right wing shortly afterwards and fired confidently into the bottom corner of the net on 24 minutes.
That goal saw Andy Morrell’s side take charge of the game, but again it could have been different if Flynn’s close-range effort hadn’t been blocked on the line by Harris just before the break.
There was a half-hearted appeal for a penalty just after the break as Mayebi flapped at a high ball and laid a hand on Louis in the box but it would have been harsh on the hosts had the referee given it.
Most of the chances were at the other end, however, as Flynn hacked a corner off the line and Pidgeley did superbly to deny first Harris and then Brett Ormerod.
Edinburgh brought on Lee Evans, Lee Minshull and Jake Harris but even super sub couldn’t save County this time.
The killer second goal finally arrived eight minutes from time as home sub Danny Wright beat Pidgeley to Ogleby’s cross and headed into the net.
There was fighting talk after the final whistle from Edinburgh and Thomson in particular, but County need to back those words up with actions tomorrow night to prove their fabulous August form was no false dawn.
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