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Wednesday 19 March 2008


Newport County


Welling United


  Gargan 50
1 Scott James
2 Ian Hillier
3 Steve Jenkins
4 Nathan Davies
5 Lee Jarman
6 Paul Cochlin
7 Lee Fowler
8 Andy Gurney
9 Charlie Griffin
10 Craig Hughes
11 Richard Evans
12 Mark Dodds
14 Sam O'Sullivan (2, 74 mins)
15 Jermaine Clarke (8, 64 mins)
16 Julian Alsop (5, 86 mins)
17 Tony Pennock


Mr. S. Phipps


Mr. D. McEllin
Mr. S. Wales (!)

1 Steve Williams
2 Michael Kamara
3 Robbie Ryan
4 Richard Carpenter
5 Chris Moore
6 Max Ellison-Hustwick
7 Ellis Green
8 Sonny Cobbs
9 Sam Gargan
10 Orlando Smith
11 Dan Nwanze
12 Calum Crawley
14 Danny Phillips
15 Joe Howe (7, 83 mins)
16 Leon Solomon (2, 54 mins)

Clear journeys down at least meant the Wings arrived as fresh as possible with time in hand. Andy Ford shuffled his formation slightly in order to play a five-man midfield with Green, Nwanze, Chippy, Cobbs and Mucu strung across the middle and Sam Gargan in a lone role up front.

The home side kicked off and tried an audacious long-range shot to score from the centre circle, but this merely conceded possession to the Wings. The visitors then started brightly with several attacking flourishes keeping the ball in the home box, before County composed themselves and started applying concerted pressure. For a while it looked like the Wings had collapsed backwards and were being consigned to trying to soak up home pressure for much of the match, although the only real Newport strike was comfortably gathered by the imposing Steve Williams. Welling gradually asserted themselves and more and more took the game to Newport, creating chances like a header which went wide when more could have been expected. The arrival of a Welling ex-pat supporter now based in Bristol had swelled the travelling fans’ ranks to the grand total of six, and they were giving the boys some good verbal support, with even the odd song – one outcry being a reference to the relative numbers: “6 of us, 11 of you, I make that Pimms o’clock...”

Play continued with the Wings pressing forward at every opportunity and looking the most likely to score. Sam Gargan’s lone role up front, which initially had looked like too much of a task, was now working much better, with the striker continuing his vastly improved all round play of the last four matches and winning balls and keeping pressure on the home defence. He was ably supported by some strong running from midfield, with both Cobbs (a revelation since his move into midfield) and Nwanze playing well, and the wide men marauding down the flanks. Mucu was sparkling with his trickery and giving the right back a torrid time.

Probably the best chance of the half came when Cobbs burst into the left of the box past the defender and squared a low ball across the face of goal. It was perfectly judged, eluding the keeper, and just waiting for one of what looked like three Wings players to touch it in; Ellis appeared the most likely at the far post, but he just failed to reach it and the ball rolled harmlessly away. And so an excellent first half came to a close; an enthralling match to watch with the Wings taking control, but it was expected that half time would see the home side given a “motivational talk” and that things might be a bit different in the second period.

As the half started, this seemed to be the case, with County really pressuring the Wings and looking determined to re-assert themselves. Kamara dithered on the ball when in plenty of space and with plenty of time, and allowed Evans to dispossess him and run on to close in on goal. His strong shot hit the bar and bounced down onto the line, although the visiting fans at first feared it was a goal, somehow the ball was cleared and the Welling clean sheet remained intact.

Welling were fighting hard to get fully back into the game, and an attack forced a corner on the right on 50 minutes. Ellis Green’s delivery was flighted nicely high into the pack of players waiting in the middle, and just as it looked that no-one would get to it, Gargan rose majestically above the pack to place a firm header down into the bottom near corner of the net and give the visitors a much deserved 1-0 lead.

The earlier slip seemed to have dented Kamara’s confidence and he began to look a bit shaky; the Wings management wisely reacted quickly and sent on Leon to replace him on 54 minutes. Nwanze then received a booking for dangerous kicking – which had looked more of a low head than a high boot – before another Welling attack forced a fumble from James in the home goal. Out of the ensuing scramble, Cobbs latched onto the ball wide of the far post and drove a low shot into the net, only for the goal to be disallowed following an immediate offside flag.

County replaced Gurney with Clarke as the visitors mounted another attack through Mucu on the left, but he fired his shot over the bar. This was followed by Leon bursting down the right in a dangerous move which saw Ellis Green brought down. Ryan took an inswinging free kick which went through to Mucu on the far side and then off for a Welling throw and subsequently a shot which was narrowly wide and ended up in the side-netting. Newport responded by substituting right back Hillier to relieve his pain in trying to deal with the threat of Mucu, with O’Sullivan replacing him. As the half neared its end, the visitors sent on Joe Howe to replace Ellis on the right in order to stiffen things up and hold onto the precious 1-0 scoreline, and County called for Bananaman. Even so, the Wings continued to push forward whenever they could in an attempt to hold the home side in their own half.

Newport desperately tried to push on in the final minutes, and Welling had to soak up some concerted pressure as the referee played out what seemed like an interminable amount of injury time. But eventually the whistle blew and the Wings had achieved a tremendous away win to seal three invaluable points in the fight against relegation. It had been a hard fought match with both sides matching each other in many ways throughout. However, it was the Wings who always seemed to have the edge, and despite some chances for the home side, Welling looked more likely to score.

The travelling six applauded the team and all the players came across to acknowledge them. The whole team had played well, both individually and as a team, and, with three wins out of the last four games, hopefully the confidence is now there for them to reproduce this form in the remaining matches this season. Andy and Phil got there tactics spot on for this match, with five in midfield working well and largely controlling the game. New/loan signings like the two Brighton boys, Max E-H, Nwanze and Steve Williams in goal are blending well with the old guard like Moore, Ryan, Carpenter, Mucu and Ellis. What a night!


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