Mangotsfield 1 County 2
AN extremely unfamiliar looking Newport County won out at Southern League South West outfit Mangotsfield last night as several trialists pushed a claim to earn a deal at Spytty Park.
Exiles supporters could be forgiven if they turned up a little late not knowing what team to support, such is the welcome familiarity in the Mangotsfield ranks.
Goalkeeper Keiron Blackburn was a second half substitute for the hosts while former academy defender Gary Colborne and current academy graduate Ryan Newman started alongside left back Geraint Bater - now a central midfielder and Sam O’Sullivan, the man whose goal at Weston remains one of the Exiles’ most treasured in recent years.
Eagle-eyed fans might have known half a dozen of the County side with the ‘French four’ all starting, but only want-away striker Robbie Matthews and goalkeeper Glyn Thompson are currently under contract at Spytty Park.
Among the new collection was striker Louis Soares, brother of Stoke man Tom, Dutchman Felino Jardim and defender Atif Bashir, a former Cardiff City academy graduate and Ben Islam, a former Northampton Town man. Academy man Troy Greening also started, although unfortunately for him out of position in central defence, where he did well.
The Exiles began the stronger side despite being thrown together, Newman turning Matthews’ goalbound header over before County did score in a decisive counter attack, Soares feeding Jardim who buried into the bottom corner.
However, defensively the Exiles were less certain and Tom Knighton and Dean Griffiths both came close either side of Colborne bundling the ball home from a set-piece County didn’t deal with, a great moment for the youngster against his former club.
The Exiles started smartly after the break and Boe Ampleford’s clever centre should have been converted.
Moments later a superb save told us what we already know, that Thompson is a top class goalkeeper and far too good to be a number two for a Conference club, flinging himself to deny Knighton’s curler.
The Exiles by this stage were happy to maintain possession and were only a sporadic goal threat, Ampleford firing over before Blackburn saved a Soares effort after a poor clearance put him under pressure.
However, County did grab a second after fine work by Soares who rounded Blackburn after a clever through ball, squaring the ball where Ben Wiltshere turned it into his own net from close range.
It was just about merited too and the Exiles will reflect on 90 minutes where no one really let themselves down in terms of staking a claim for a contract.
Some tough decisions ahead.
Mangotsfield: Alexander, Wiltshere, Parrinello, Purnell, Colborne, Marshall, O’Sullivan, Bater, Knighton, Newman, Griffiths
Subs: O’Connor, Blackburn, Page, Groves
County: Glyn Thompson, Ben Islam, Sofiane Gherbi, Guillame Velez, Troy Greening, Atif Bashir, Felino Jardim, Boe Ampleford (Kyle Patten 73), Robbie Matthews, Louis Soares, Adam Smith
Subs not used: Joe Thomas, Michael Lewis, Wayne Hatswell