County crash out of FA Cup
5:01pm Sunday 8th December 2013 in Newport County
PERHAPS the biggest surprise of all is that we never saw this result coming.
Rich in form, high on confidence and a full division better than their hosts, Newport County’s travelling army of fans will have headed to Kidderminster full of confidence and rightly so.
However, in a world of lucky shirts, rituals on match day and a whole pile of things fans can be superstitious about; we should’ve seen this coming, shouldn’t we?
What happens when you combine a bogey team, a bogey ground and a bogey competition? You create more chances than your opponents and find yourselves 4-0 down. That’s what happens.
When I coined the poor pun of County being ‘Aggborough-phobic’ last season I couldn’t have imagined the mileage I’d get from it, Saturday the very latest instalment of the Exiles’ utter misery in the West Midlands.
And as for the FA Cup, well, it’s getting ridiculous.
Kidderminster are a more respectable name than Team Bath, Paulton Rovers, Yate Town and a host of others who have dumped the County out in recent seasons, but the dream of reaching the third round is absurdly no closer despite Newport now being among the elite 92 themselves.
Manager Justin Edinburgh was right to reflect post match that the Exiles had created plenty and had they taken their chances his side might well have got something out of the game, but that’s just a partial truth.
Because the fact is, Kidderminster were far better than Newport where it really matters, at the two business ends of the field.
If Conor Washington and Danny Crow had been able to match the composure of Michael Gash and Callum Gittings, things might have been different. If County had shown the same shape and defensive discipline as the hosts... you get the picture.
Make no mistake; this was a game Newport lost a few times. By failing to take the lead when they were on top, by conceding two goals in succession and most of all by gifting Kidderminster the decisive third goal before the interval by virtue of playing Kamikaze football, Newport plotted their own downfall.
And it needn’t have been so. County started the brighter and ended the game with an iron grip on proceedings as their superior conditioning told, but sadly by then the contest was lost.
Both Washington and Crow missed early chances and it set the stage for the hosts to score with their first attack, a feat they managed with real aplomb as Gash curled spectacularly past Lenny Pidgeley.
It was a kick in the guts for Newport and their response rather summed things up, Adam Chapman inches wide with a header that would’ve given parity before the hosts promptly broke and scored a second, Gittings sweeping home a rebound after Pidgeley’s smart parry.
We’ve seen plenty of evidence that 2-0 is no real lead in a game between Kiddy and County, but no one gave the Exiles that memo.
They tore forward on the stroke of half time like they only had a minute to score, rather than a minute and then the whole of the second half and the ruthless hosts punished them for it.
Joe Lolley’s pass was smart but it was inexplicable that Gittings was essentially given a 50-yard clean run at goal, though he showed superb composure to beat Pidgeley.
Effectively buried at half time it became a case of damage limitation for Newport and even that proved impossible, the hosts killing the contest just past the hour when Gash again finished brilliantly.
However, County could’ve been right back in it by then, but Washington spurned another good chance and Willmott rattled the crossbar from 25-yards.
In an attacking sense, Willmott was Newport’s most efficient player, generally making good decisions when those around him simply weren’t.
Fitting then that Willmott provided the Exiles with a couple of last consolation goals, scrambling home from close range and finding the top corner with a firm header as substitutes Andy Sandell and Christian Jolley made a mark.
However, this was another day to forget for County in the FA Cup, and at Aggborough. We really should’ve known...
Kidderminster: Lewis, Vaughan, Storer, Dunkley, Fowler, Gash, Jackman, Gittings (Byrne 73), Lolley, Morgan-Smith (Johnson 70), Gowling
Booked: Storer, Fowler, Gittings
Subs not used: Demetriou, Malbon, Blissett, Dance, Vaughan
County: Pidgeley, Jackson, Willmott, Oshilaja (Flynn 67), Worley, Hughes, Chapman, Naylor, Minshull (Jolley 46), Crow (Sandell 64), Washington
Subs not used: Stephens, Jones, Barker, Pipe
Referee: Mark Heywood (Cheshire)
Attendance: 2636 (537 away)
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