Fans’ faith is restored as Exiles are fired up to third
HISTORY hasn’t been too kind on The Godfather Part III, the lofty benchmark of the previous instalments and the creaky acting of Sophia Coppola too much for it to bear.
It is, however, The Godfather film with arguably the most recognisable line of dialogue of the trilogy as Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, laments his situation and ties to the family when he declares: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
That feeling will no doubt be familiar to the Newport County supporters who manager Justin Edinburgh accused of doubting their promotion credentials when they slipped eight points behind leaders Grimsby.
A week is a long time in football, so they say, which must make 11 days a really long time because in that period County have won three on the spin to overtake the Shrimpers. The belief is back.
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
County were simply too good for the beleaguered visitors, new boss Mark Cooper’s side simply not able to contain County as they efficiently rather than spectacularly worked their way to three precious points.
We’ve had drama on a grand scale in virtually every home game at Rodney Parade, that’s how it feels anyway, and a reassuringly uneventful win earned by good organisation, hard work and efficiency that didn’t panic fans down to their last nerve was a most welcome occurrence indeed.
You don’t get more points for performances that lead to people like me writing words like “pulsating,” or “nail-biting”, and there could’ve been no more welcome sight than a relatively straightforward victory.
The Exiles set the tempo from kick-off, Danny Crow turning home a Christian Jolley shot with less than a minute on the clock, a pointer towards an ever-developing understanding between the pair.
Unfortunately for the hosts they were denied by the linesman’s flag in a marginal instance, the first of a couple of first-half incidents that they felt went against them.
The second seemed more clear-cut, Lee Minshull clearly hauled down inside the penalty area only to be denied in his claim for a spot kick, Crow tamely firing at Ryan Young in the scramble that followed.
The 33-year-old was in inspired form throughout and can count himself unlucky to have been on the losing side, having already saved adroitly and from point-blank range when Crow fired at him on 10 minutes.
No sooner had County’s penalty appeal been turned down than Minshull was awarded an innocuous free kick on halfway, his frustration with referee Lee Swabey obvious.
Telford were penned back rather than negative, they never resorted to sitting deep with ten men behind the ball and that bravery played into County’s hands.
They threatened on the break only sporadically, and just before County’s penalty claim former Exile Charlie Henry broke free but shot meekly straight at Lenny Pidgeley.
Minshull volleyed just wide with a blockbuster from range and Jolley headed tamely when he had far more time than he realised, but Telford stood firm.
Newport were unable to maintain that supremacy and the first half meandered to a close, but they began with menace again after the break and scored within ten minutes.
Andy Sandell and David Pipe played more like midfielders than wing-backs and both could’ve scored, but from Sandell coming close the Exiles went in front.
His heavily deflected shot fell perfectly to Minshull and left Young stranded, the former Wimbledon man alert enough to head the ball across goal to give Jolley a header into an empty net.
It was merited on the balance of play and County continued to press, Pipe stinging Young’s hand with a drive and Scott Donnelly thumping the outside of the post from an acute angle.
Jolley almost sealed it with a curler, again saved superbly by Young before a moment of true class give Newport a cushion they ended up needing, Crow controlling a Pipe punt over the top sublimely, drifting away from the goalkeeper with a single movement before sliding the ball perfectly between two defenders on the line racing to block.
The Exiles were again frustrated by a failure to keep a clean sheet when Pidgeley spilt the ball under pressure from a challenge – it might have been a foul – which allowed Phil Trainer to drive home a consolation in stoppage time. The victory moves County menacingly into third place in the Conference, level on 59 points with Kidderminster with two games in hand, and two points behind Welsh rivals Wrexham with a one-game advantage.
And that should put County fans in good heart ahead of four away days on the bounce that will go a long way to deciding Newport’s prospects for this season. But they’ll travel with belief in their hearts once more. Leave the gun and take the Cannoli.
County: Pidgeley, James, Yakubu, Anthony, Pipe, Sandell, Minshull, Flynn, Donnelly (Griffiths 80), Crow (Thomson 86), Jolley (Willmott 89).
Subs not used: Julian, Hughes.
Telford: Young, Valentine, Hubbins, Watson, Rose, Craney, Trainer, Smith (Graham 61), Henry, Reid (Rodney 67), Peniket.
Subs not used: Salmon, Preston, Jones Booked: Trainer.
Referee: Lee Swabey (Devon).