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Newport County 3 Watford 1 (22/09/2020) 23/09/2020

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.
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1- So the most pleasing thing about this evening is the shade of amber of Newport’s shirts. It’s…. not quite as orange as Wolves, not quite as yellow as Bradford. It’s what Newport’s shirts should be.  I guess Shoot League Ladders have a lot to answer for, since we’ve not played Newport since 1978, so I’ve nothing really to base this instinct on.

And actually, it’s arguable whether we played Newport in 1978.  I don’t mean that in a if-Sam-Ellis-falls-over-in-the-penalty-box-and-nobody’s-there-to-hear-him-did-he-make-any-noise kinda way but… we played a Newport County in 1978.  But not this one.  Maybe.  That version of Newport County went out of business in 1989 having dropped out of the league nine months earlier.

They were reformed immediately, and consensus seems to be that this is the same club, which is surely true morally and spiritually, whether or not it would stand up to any legal scrutiny.  But such quandaries are a minefield I tell you… if Newport is a relatively clear cut case, what about Berko and Berko Town? Burton United and Burton Albion?  Folkestone Town became Folkestone in 1968 but there was an earlier “perhaps unrelated” Folkestone before WW2.  What are you supposed to do with that?  I hope your evenings are more productive than mine are.

2- Oh go on then.

The argument was made, more or less a week ago, that in the Current Circumstances a League Cup run would be a more useful thing than it might have been in previous years.  Clubs haven’t had a pre-season to speak of, no time to hone things, to try things out.  It’s like a pre-season with bells on, a competitive pretext.

Our line-up betrayed what we thought of that idea.  Daniel Bachmann, it appeared, was punished for generating another midweek fixture with the captaincy, and our selection was even more threadbare than it had been at Oxford a week ago.  We didn’t even bother to bring an extra body to fill the bench.

The wider question is the current treatment of the squad, which we’ve touched on but not really discussed.  We clearly have players that are injured.  We also have players that are “injured”, either than or we’ve been struck by a injury rampage that disproportionately disables players that want to move or who we want to move.  The commitment to only field “our” players, long-term players, is a bold one from Ivic.  Given the current state of flux, however, there was always the danger that it would lead to a shitshow like this.

3- Forgive me, but I really can’t be arsed to relive that miserable two hours.  I worked my nuts off all weekend, took Monday off to try and reclaim some brain space and saw Monday screwed over as well.  I could have done with something positive this evening.  Jesus.

The first half was as soporific and inadequate as anything we suffered under Pearson after the lockdown.  Different context altogether of course, far more forgivable here but a miserable viewing experience nonetheless.  Defensively we were a shambles;  Craig Dawson, nominally the wise head at the back, seemed to be perfecting the art of playing lazy, aimless passes into the midfield. All the poise of Marco Cassetti’s ball to Vyds against Leicester, none of the end product.  The loose balls were eagerly picked up by Newport’s focused and bullish side, everything that we weren’t, who quickly cottoned on to the fact that there was nothing much to fear here.  Nothing much at all, actually.  Toby Stevenson got caught on the wrong side of his marker, not for the last time, committed a foul in trying to retrieve the situation and the home side were ahead from the spot.

We were no better going forwards.  Glenn Murray, worryingly, looked leaden once again and we failed to build anything much off him – though significantly the one ball that he received to his feet saw him roll his marker and move the ball on.  What good stuff there was was sharp and aggressive but fizzled out like a firework as quickly as it started, Sinclair standing out from the morass with a surging run and then sinking back into it by committing a foul as the ball came back across.  The strongest performer in the first half was Derek Agyakwa in the middle of the three at the back, who had the confidence to surge forward and more finesse than his frame suggested, playing decent balls through Newport’s midfield to feet, our greatest success in navigating the home side’s aggressive press.  Nonetheless, by the break we were two down.

4- I didn’t rush back for the second half, deciding that I wasn’t desperate enough to see the first five minutes to spend brownie points on asking my wife to bring my dinner up when it was ready.  I had to piece together a change in formation to four at the back, Agyakwa now looking less comfortable at right back, and with two changes that saw Peñaranda and Perica replace Murray and the ineffective Hungbo.

Nacho Pussetto switched wings in the change, and looked dynamic and aggressive on the left in stark contrast to much that the team had offered in the first half.  His charge into the box brought a clumsy, ill-advised challenge and a Watford penalty. Peñaranda, keen for the ball but rather playing his own game for his own ends throughout, grasped the spot kick to the chagrin of Stipe Perica whose remonstration with the bench seemed to go unanswered. The Venezuelan’s successful conversion wasn’t celebrated by anyone, no congratulations offered.

Nonetheless, we were looking decent at this point.  James Garner began to look like the metronome that he’s been lauded as, dropping deep to receive the ball and spread it onwards far more fluidly than anything else we managed.  We were on top and suddenly looking like hurting the home side.   Until a loose Dan Phillips pass across the face of the area was seized upon by Padraig Amond and the game was over.

5- Harsh to be too critical of the kids, many of whom struggled.  If as much effort has been devotable to preparing the team as the chosen line-up would suggest they were on a hiding to nothing.  Tommy Mooney’s assertion that they will have benefitted from it is borne of experience, but feels like a very positive spin to me.  A humbling by a team two divisions lower, much the better side on the evening, doesn’t feel like a great preparation for anything much to my mind.

Most of all they were let down by the few senior pros around them;  Murray was quiet and ineffective, Dawson looked a lot happier in a back four in the second half but created all manner of problems for us in the first, Nacho Pussetto went from being our most potent threat to the likeliest recipient of a red card as the game ran away from us, yellow carded and several times told to calm down by the referee until he was subbed for a lively Crichlow.  The dismissal instead went to Stipe Perica for an idiotic, sulky and completely deliberate swing of the elbow into his marker’s jaw.  Once again looking a far more credible line-leader than Murray he will not now be available until beyond the international break.  Criminal, and far more expensive than this League Cup exit.  He knew it, too, his level of embarrassment and frustration at his own stupidity his one saving grace.

An almost entirely miserable evening.  If it’s followed by a win on Saturday of course nobody will remember by next week, unless it’s to praise the decision to bench the senior players that made it possible.  Right now, at 11pm two hours after the final whistle that possibility feels a long way off.

Ho hum.  Yooorns.

Bachmann 3, Sierralta 2, Agyakwa 3, Dawson 2, Pussetto 2, *Garner 3*, Phillips 1, Stevenson 1, Sinclair 2, Hungbo 1, Murray 1
Subs: Perica (for Murray, 45) 1, Peñaranda (for Hungbo, 45) 2, Crichlow (for Pussetto, 84) NA, Ngakia, Cathcart, Parkes

Comments»

1. John parslow - 23/09/2020

As someone who never leaves a game before the end , is it wrong that I left the living room to put the bins out with 5 mins to go.
The Bachman punishment comment is the only redeeming thing from the whole night – so thank you. Still laughing.

Matt Rowson - 23/09/2020

Thank you. I am hardly in a position to criticise your prioritising bins.

Sequel - 23/09/2020

I committed a far worse sin. I watched the lot down the road playing United. 3-0 greatly flattered the away side. Frankly, I’m worried.

2. Ray Knight - 23/09/2020

I hope this is our low point before the window shuts as this quite frankly embarrassing. Agyakwa apart the youngsters were out of their depth. Murray was awful and Sinclair not much better (he needs to move on). A little better in the second half when Garner and Penaranda started to combine and Crichlow had one nice run outside their box. Dawson looked disinterested when interviews by Emma after the match. Clearly management are not allowing Ivic access to certain players. Sorry to say I’d be surprised now if we can get any sort of result on Saturday.

3. Luke - 23/09/2020

Thanks Matt. Grim reading, but must have been grimmer writing it. Onwards!

4. David - 23/09/2020

As an aside, Brentford were heavily criticised for dropping any pretence of a developing a youth team. In practice we have done the same by having our potential players out on loan but still keep in place a formal youth structure. Games like tonight show the chasm between players at league 2 level and under 23 football.

As for the immediate future, Matt you are 100% correct; win on Saturday and this game never existed.

5. Harefield Hornet - 23/09/2020

A dreadful evening in many ways which have already been discussed – but some credit is also due to Newport, who I thought were well organised and worked hard. With regard team selection this was one experiment too far, but I also suspect Vlad will not have experienced playing against a 4th tier side of the same quality as Newport in any of his previous roles.

6. simmos - 23/09/2020

While it is still early days for Glenn Murray, I have to say the signing is starting to feel like a Trevor Senior moment.

Matt Rowson - 23/09/2020

I don’t think so. Senior was awful, but was out of his depth. Murray has “done it” at this and a higher level. I don’t doubt it will come good, but if it doesn’t it’s a different kind of problem.

7. Thanet horn - 23/09/2020

Bad result but agree it’s not surprising given the uncertainty with the players who may possibly leave. The situation is probably out of Ivics hands anyway as the club probably don’t want to risk potential departures getting injured so he had to rotate
This result will bring us all down but would rather best the Shatters on Saturday but that looks like it could be a tall order
Hoping we get this one out of our system quickly and would like to praise the lads who are committed to the cause and wish the new signings and youngsters . Thanks for the report and cheers to all Hornets
Onwards and Upwards

8. Harefield Hornet - 23/09/2020

Why are people suddenly building up Luton as some kind of unstoppable force following one bad result due to a weakened line-up! They were almost relegated themselves last season! Surely there’s been enough in the Boro and Wednesday performances to give us some hope! It’s almost in danger of becoming self-fulfilling prophecy!

9. Harefield Hornet - 24/09/2020

I see now they’ve had to board up GT’s statue before the match tomorrow- what sad times we are living in!


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