Late goal saves Exiles' blushes on Parade
COUNTY 2 MERTHYR 2
A LACKLUSTRE performance saw Newport County AFC limp to a 2-2 draw against Welsh rivals Merthyr Town at Rodney Parade last night.
A last minute equaliser from striker Jake Harris saved the Exiles’ blushes on a disappointing night.
Manager Justin Edinburgh was absent, leaving assistant Jimmy Dack in charge, and one or two of his players will be glad after a sloppy display.
After the high of beating League Two Bristol Rovers in front of nearly 1,600 fans in the first game at their new home on Tuesday, this was a bit of a letdown.
A noisy 701 supporters populated the Bisley Stand with a fair few from Merthyr and they were the only ones that went home satisfied.
The match seemed to be going to plan as Jefferson Louis gave County the lead midway through the first half with a right-foot shot from the edge of the box that found the bottom corner of Giles Cutland’s goal.
The imposing 6ft 2ins striker with the bright pink boots certainly catches the eye and he’s quickly making a habit of scoring at Rodney Parade having headed the opener against Rovers.
New signing Aaron O’Connor was also sporting the pink boots and he made an impressive debut on the left of a three-pronged attack with Louis down the middle and Ryan Charles on the right.
On his second Exiles debut Mike Flynn looked a little short of fitness, as he himself admits, but his quality on the ball was obvious for all to see.
Once match-fit he has the potential to boss the midfield and give County the platform to hurt the opposition.
It was Merthyr who were on the front foot for most of the match, however.
They were unfortunate to be a goal down after creating three decent chances in the early stages and seeing a goal from Matthew Harris ruled out for offside.
They were soon level through one of their six ex-County players as Ryan Newman sent a looping long-range effort over Joe Perry’s head and into the net 10 minutes before the break.
Newman only made one senior appearance in an amber shirt but he was the pick of the former Exiles as he lined up alongside Gary Colbourne, Kris Leek, Andrew Thomas and Nathan Davies, with Ryan Dorrian coming off the bench.
Like Flynn, Davies didn’t look 100% fit but on this evidence he and his Martyrs teammates can look forward to a successful season in the the Evo-Stik League Southern Division One South & West.
Davies received a standing ovation when he was replaced 10 minutes into the second half and the visitors were ahead just four minutes later as Newman swept the ball past Perry for his second.
A raft of substitutions followed with trialist Ben Swallow given a run out and Max Porter, Mark Cooper, Jake Thomson, Harris and youngster Kris Fielden also getting on.
Goal machine Harris got his third of pre-season to steal a draw but County will hope for much-improved performances against a Swansea City XI on Tuesday and Yeovil Town on Friday before the big kick-off at Mansfield on August 11.
It’s always a mistake to read too much into pre-season matches but at the moment they don’t look ready for the Stags.
County: Perry, Pipe, Sandell (Cooper, 45), Hughes, James (Porter, 45), Evans (Swallow, 45), Minshull, Flynn (Thomson, 45), Charles (Fielden, 72), Louis, O’Connor (Harris, 45).
Subs not used: Swan.
Merthyr: Cutland, Williams (Hitchcock, 60), Trailor (Griffiths, 60), Thomas, Rewbury, Colbourne, Davies (Welsh, 55), Harris (Jones, 44), Prosser (Dorrian, 60), Leek (Howe, 72), Newman (Wearn, 60).
Referee: Mark Whitby (Swansea) Attendance: 701 Argus star man: Louis