Joe Parker shows his talent in friendly win
NEWPORT County AFC fans got a glimpse of the future in the Gloucestershire sun on Saturday afternoon as Joe Parker shone in his first appearance in an Exiles shirt.
The 19-year-old striker waltzed through the Cirencester Town defence and calmly side-footed the ball past former County goalkeeper Glyn Garner for the fourth goal in a fine 5-0.
There will of course be sterner tests ahead for Parker and it is perhaps asking too much for him to make the same rapid progress as Conor Washington in the Football League.
But the former Gloucester City hotshot certainly showed his qualities against the Southern League outfit and suggested he has the potential to follow in Washington’s footsteps.
Manager Justin Edinburgh will not rush Parker into action in League Two but if he maintains the impressive form he showed on Saturday he may well be a secret weapon off the bench this season.
This second pre-season friendly win was also notable for Parker’s fellow front men Aaron O’Connor and Rene Howe getting on the score sheet.
O’Connor, who started up front in a 4-3-3 formation alongside Chris Zebroski and trialist Jack Simmons, opened the scoring with a tap-in after good work from Simmons and Yan Klukowski.
After the break Rene Howe added two more goals to the one he got at Evesham United last week, the first a fantastic curling strike into the top corner.
And midfielder Mike Flynn rounded off the win with a close range effort in the final ten minutes.
Edinburgh was delighted with the performance and the fact that so many members of his squad seem to be working themselves into form ahead of the League Two opener at home to Wycombe Wanderers on August 9.
“It’s going to be a tough task to name a team for the first game of the season with the performances that we’re putting in,” said the Exiles boss.
“I know it’s early but it’s been very pleasing.
“I thought that again, on a difficult surface, certainly in the second half once we got a couple of goals ahead that we moved the ball well.
“I thought Jack Simmons and Shaun Jeffers did well, as did Rene Howe and Andrew Hughes was excellent again,” he added.
“It was a very good physical workout and we’ve come through it with no injuries so we’re very pleased.”
Another positive was a first start for defender Ismail Yakubu after his recovery from an ankle injury.
The centre-back played for 45 minutes alongside Kevin Feely before Edinburgh made ten changes for the second half.
Fellow central defender Byron Anthony was watching from the sidelines but he could make his first appearance of pre-season over the next seven days.
County are in action at Weston-super-Mare on Tuesday and Croesyceiliog in a development game on Wednesday before the visit to Cinderford to play Tim Harris’ Gloucester side on Saturday.
“Ish had a good three or four days at St George’s, trained with us on Friday and played a good solid 45 minutes,” said Edinburgh.
“And Byron is not too far away either so we’re in pretty good shape at this stage of pre-season.”
Starting XI: Pidgeley, Sellears, Carter, Feely, Yakubu, Chapman, Minshull, Klukowski, O'Connor, Zebroski, Simmons
Second half XI: Pidgeley, Jackson, Hughes, Jones, Willmott, Flynn, Byrne, Jolley, Parker, Howe, Jeffers