NEWPORT County AFC had to settle for a point after a fantastic 0-0 draw with Bradford City in League Two.

The Exiles recovered from an iffy start to have the better of it against the Bantams but couldn’t find a winner.

The best chance fell to James Clarke but he somehow headed against the bar from close range, admittedly under pressure, and it took a fine Joe Day save at the death to deny Bradford a smash-and-grab.

County had to settle for a point that saw them drop to 13th, a win away from fourth in the table.

Here are the talking points from Rodney Parade…

South Wales Argus: STRONG: Courtney Baker-Richardson holds up the ballSTRONG: Courtney Baker-Richardson holds up the ball


This was a game to convince you that everything is going to be alright post-Michael Flynn, even more so than last week's 3-0 win against Scunthorpe.

The Iron are awful and were given a 6-1 hammering by Harrogate yesterday after being 5-0 down at the break.

Early days but they look relegation fodder while Bradford are a well-drilled side with a big budget and quality players led by a manager with a 2021 promotion on his CV (more on him later).

The Bantams will be in the mix at the top end of the table but were given a torrid time by County.

The Exiles made a slow start but grew into the game and deserved to win it after an excellent display that combined fight with quality on the ball.

There wasn’t a weak link but pick of the bunch were the midfield duo of Ollie Cooper and Robbie Willmott.

South Wales Argus: WORKAHOLIC: Robbie Willmott got through a mountain of work for CountyWORKAHOLIC: Robbie Willmott got through a mountain of work for County


Some sides are good at what they do and stick rigidly to it but County can adapt.

Bradford looked superb in the opening exchanges with lively Levi Sutton, who gave away a last-second penalty when the sides met at Cardiff City Stadium last season with a daft handball, causing headaches in the final third.

County reacted with a change from their 3-5-2, pushing Matty Dolan from centre-back to midfield.

It worked a treat, they got a foothold and were the better team for the rest of the game.

The Exiles are blessed with cunning players on the ball behind a hard-working strike partnership.

Finn Azaz once again made an impact off the bench to join Cooper, who is a menace in full flight, in trying to drag the Bantams defence out of their comfort zone.

That was combined with the class on the ball, energy and footballing IQ of Willmott, whose running distance must have been through the roof.

Fitness permitting, County should be naming a settled side in the coming weeks but that doesn’t mean they will play the same formation and in the same way. They can even go direct with Courtney Baker-Richardson and Alex Fisher in the squad.

South Wales Argus: CONTROVERSIAL: Derek Adams copped flak from the terraceCONTROVERSIAL: Derek Adams copped flak from the terrace


Strangely, I left Rodney Parade with a little bit of admiration for Derek Adams. Not that he cares what anybody thinks about him.

The Bradford boss knew he was going to cop some flak and it was non-stop from the terrace behind the dugout.

He created the situation with his lack of grace after Morecambe’s controversial play-off final win over County, that after he had showed a good poker face to remain unfazed in the regular season when Shrimps legend Kevin Ellison, who he had frozen out, celebrated a clinching goal wildly in front of him.

Adams seemingly has one expression and didn’t rise to the chants, one of which from a young bunch went a bit too far in my opinion. In fact, he seemed to go out of his technical area towards the most vocal bunch of fans.

It looked like he suggested to the fourth official that Ellison had said something as he went past to warm-up and then at the death he got a yellow card for deflecting the ball to prevent a throw-in being taken.

Deep down, and it must be very deep down, Adams must have a dry sense of humour judging by his post-match interview.

“I didn’t actually hear anything this afternoon,” he said. “People were saying beforehand [that there would be some abuse] but I didn’t hear anything today.”

Bradford headhunted him at the end of last season and the pressure is on him to deliver promotion for a big club that shouldn’t be in the fourth tier.

Adams won’t care who he upsets while attempting to achieve that and he will be as popular at Valley Parade as he was at Mazuma Stadium if he is successful, but plenty will have a chuckle if he fails.


While Bradford have their boss for the season, County continue their hunt for a new man.

Sporting director Darren Kelly is leading that search and whoever accepts the job will have good players to work with and a solid position to push for promotion.

The Exiles are mid-table but are in pretty solid shape after an August schedule that tested them physically and mentally.

The rest of October presents a chance for a settled County to keep ticking along nicely with league clashes against Exeter (away), Carlisle (home), Bristol Rovers (away) and Stevenage (home).

Whether it's Hatswell calling the shots for those games or a new man, the Exiles have to hunt consistency and have to start by backing up this performance at St James Park.

A winning streak be amazing but an unbeaten run would be just fine while we wait for the new gaffer.