NEWPORT County AFC enjoyed a 2-1 win against Barrow at Rodney Parade on Saturday afternoon thanks to Ryan Taylor’s strike in the second half.

The League Two encounter was level at half-time after Liam Shephard’s first goal for County was cancelled out by Lewis Hardcastle after a defensive howler.

A Barrow mishap then allowed Taylor, who scored in the opening weekend draw at Scunthorpe, to slam home what turned out to be the winner.


Here are the talking points from the clash in Newport…

South Wales Argus: GREAT STRIKE: Lewis Hardcastle celebratesGREAT STRIKE: Lewis Hardcastle celebrates


On opening weekend Mickey Demetriou’s pass was picked off before Scunthorpe’s Ryan Loft smashed in a screamer.

In the first game of the campaign at Rodney Parade, Bradley Cooper made a poor pass and then Demetriou tried an ill-advised flick. Barrow broke and Hardcastle finished magnificently.

It was a high-quality finish, one that looked even better when viewed on television later in the even.

Two fixtures and two marvellous goals that have exploited County’s ambition in playing out from the back.

They aren’t the only howlers – a slip allowed Cambridge to go close to a leveller after being pummelled in the Carabao Cup while Barrow could easily have profited from other errors in the first half.

Manager Michael Flynn chastised his back five at the break, telling them that they had all been guilty of an individual error, and they were much better in the second 45.

It’s tempting to say that there is a time and a place – just put your boot through it – but football has changed, even down the leagues.

“One mistake doesn’t mean that all of the good work and the playing that we are doing is going to go down the pan,” said Flynn afterwards.

South Wales Argus: IMPRESSIVE: Ryan Taylor held the ball up wellIMPRESSIVE: Ryan Taylor held the ball up well


For the second League Two game on the spin, Padraig Amond didn’t get to take his bib off on the bench.

That the club’s top goal scorer for the last three years hasn’t yet been used shows the options that are currently available to Flynn.

Amond is a class act, so perhaps the manager is just assessing his options ahead of what will be a long season.

Saikou Janneh deserved a chance after some lively cameos and the Bristol City prospect was a willing runner, although his decision-making frustrated at times, which is to be expected at his age.

Ryan Taylor scored for the second weekend running but it’s his all-round game that has impressed – the veteran looks adaptable with the ability to hold the ball up no matter the quality of the pass but also graft in the channels.

In the pre-match press conference he also talked about liking to mix it up with the centre halves when the elbows are flying. Early days but Taylor looks an astute signing.

With Tristan Abrahams and Kevin Ellison also available, Flynn is spoilt for choice and has the ability to rotate his forwards to keep the opposition guessing and build competition for starts.

South Wales Argus: Scott Twine's delivery wasn't quite on the money in blustery conditionsScott Twine's delivery wasn't quite on the money in blustery conditions


County have clearly worked hard on their set pieces because they have caused plenty of problems in the early weeks of the season.

In Ryan Haynes and Scott Twine they have players with the ability to whip in quality balls – it says it all when a playmaker as good as Josh Sheehan stands off – but against Barrow they just didn’t get it right.

The Cumbrians were well-organised and hard to break down, which made it all the more frustrating that so many balls went straight into the hands of goalkeeper Joel Dixon.

It was the same in open play with plenty of crosses overhit but there was mitigation that may not have been clear on iFollow or when watching the highlights – it was a sunny but incredibly blustery day in Newport.

South Wales Argus: Josh Sheehan pulls the strings for CountyJosh Sheehan pulls the strings for County


County have had some fine performances, both individually and as a unit, but nobody has made the spot next to Josh Sheehan their own.

It’s a vital role next to the Exiles’ creative force with Joss Labadie getting the nod at Scunthorpe and then Robbie Willmott against Barrow.

Willmott won the praise of Flynn after getting the job against Cambridge and slotted in again to do a steady job, with Labadie not risked from the start after nursing a slight Achilles issue in the week.

Versatile Scot Bennett is also back in the mix after being an unused sub against Barrow while Matty Dolan can still play midfield as well as the heart of a back three.

With County looking to be expansive and wing-backs Ryan Haynes and Liam Shephard bombing up the flanks, a lot of responsibility falls on those who smell danger and have the legs to snuff it out.