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Match Reports

Report: Newport 0-0 Wycombe

Chairboys earn first clean sheet in excellent away performance.

9 September 2017

Wanderers were unfortunate not to leave Rodney Parade with all three points after a strong second-half display.

Wycombe had to ride an early storm as County began well but Gareth Ainsworth’s men went on to dominate spells, particularly after the break, with Josh Umerah and Craig Mackail-Smith coming agonisingly close to scoring their first goals for the club.

Ainsworth made one enforced change to his starting line-up, with Adebayo Akinfenwa missing out after collecting an injury in the latter stages of the excellent 3-1 win over Forest Green last week.

Josh Umerah came in for his first EFL start for the Chairboys, leading the line against an in-form County outfit which included Sky Bet League 2 Player of the Month winner Frank Nouble.

The first shot on target arrived just 80 seconds into the game when a long free-kick forward from Scott Brown remained in danger from Ben White’s attempted clearance and Paris Cowan-Hall sent a low drive goalwards, with Joe Day holding on.

Then County had a chance when Frank Nouble kept the ball alive despite Michael Harriman’s efforts to shepherd it out for a goal-kick, and his cross-shot from a tight angle was parried by Scott Brown into the path of Padraig Amond, whose rushed effort was straight at the keeper.

Amond then had another sight of goal with Nouble’s deep cross evading the outstretched arm of Brown, but the former Hartlepool striker couldn’t adjust his body quickly enough to send his header into the net.

Michael Harriman sent a left-footed shot wide from distance in a bid to quell the Exiles’ early spell of pressure, before Joe Jacobson’s deep free-kick evaded the late run of Craig Mackail-Smith who’d lost his man at the back post.

An offside flag saved Newport keeper Joe Day from a definite red card after his misjudgement prompted him to pick up the ball outside his area, only for Paris Cowan-Hall to be adjudged to be offside half a second earlier.

Dominic Gape collected a card on his birthday – a yellow one for a late tackle on Sean Rigg – before Mackail-Smith latched on to a superb through-ball down the right but his cross had a little too much height for Cowan-Hall to head home at the far post.

Joe Day made a smart save with two hands to keep out Luke O’Nien’s bending effort from 20 yards, and the same pair was in action as O’Nien let fly with a stunning volley from 35 yards moment later, with Day tipping around the other post.

Padraig Amond headed over from a cross at the other end as the half developed with both sides having enjoyed spells on top, but unable to find the breakthrough.

Newport were forced into a change before the break with the combative captain Joss Labadie coming off injured, as Brentford loanee Reece Cole took his place.

Scott Brown tipped over a free header from Amond following a long throw from Mickey Demetriou before following it up with another save from Cole’s long-range effort as County applied pressure in stoppage time, but the Blues saw it out to ensure the first half ended goalless.

There were no substitutions at half-time, though a slippery pitch which had been problematic in the first half continued to play havoc for both sets of players, bringing to an end many promising moves at the vital moment.

Josh Umerah saw a shot blocked from a deep free-kick before action swung to the other end and Scott Brown performed heroics to keep out a bullet header at the near post from Amond.

Then superb defending from Adam El-Abd not only thwarted a dangerous 3-on-3 counter-attack from Newport but also started a fast-paced move from the Blues which almost saw Mackail-Smith handed a simple header only for David Pipe to deny him.

From the resulting corner, Umerah’s bullet header was tipped away by Day but the ball stayed alive and Day produced an even better save to keep out Mackail-Smith’s clever shot on the turn which seemed destined for the bottom corner.

Then Anthony Stewart’s header was cleared off the line as the Exiles saw out a strong spell from the Blues, though they were lucky to survive when referee Ben Toner failed to spot a pull on Umerah on the edge of the area.

Chances kept coming, and Mackail-Smith had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock on 63 minutes when Umerah tore away down the right and delivered a sublime early cross behind the defensive line but his team-mate could only sweep it wide of the near post with only the keeper to beat.

Dominic Gape came off for Marcus Bean, perhaps as a preventative measure with Gape having been booked earlier on, and the new arrival almost scored his first Wycombe goal following a strong forward surge which culminated in his fierce shot being pushed away by the keeper.

Josh Umerah sent a left-footed shot wide after Matt Bloomfield won the ball back high up the pitch as the Chairboys continued to have the upper hand, prompting a change from Newport who replaced Sean Rigg with Ben Tozer and changed shape in the process.

They should have done better when Amond failed to pick out Nouble with a cushioned header having found space in the box, before Wanderers made another change, with Ebere Eze making his debut from the bench, replacing Matt Bloomfield.

Eze was at the heart of a move that saw Cowan-Hall’s cross headed off the line with Mackail-Smith waiting to pounce, before Tom Owen Evans came on for Robbie Willmott in County’s final change.

Mackail-Smith headed over from Cowan-Hall’s cross with five minutes remaining, before Amond bent a delicious curling effort just wide of the far post as the clock ticked to 90.

A tense five minutes of stoppage time came and went as the visitors left with a first clean sheet under their belts, showing plenty of signs of progress at the back and feeling a little unlucky not to have claimed the victory.

Attendance: 3,752 (302 away)

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