Newport County 1 Wrexham 1- That’ll Do!

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Danny Wright scores for a 4th game in a row.
A brilliant game: I hated every second of it!

It could have ended 4-4 (or more likely 6-4 to Newport) and I won the sweep on when someone on Premier Sport would crack and say it was “a great advert for the Conference.” But it didn’t half play on the nerves.

When we had the ball we looked good. When we didn’t, it wasn’t half as pretty.

Having said we needed a strong start, I shuddered through the first eighty seconds as we gave the ball away immediately from the kick off, then Neil Ashton shanked a hideous clearance across his own area, Martin Riley was sluggish and let a player nip in front of him in the box and then we gave away a free kick which Aaron O’Connor managed to attack unmarked, but failed to make contact six yards out.

Defensively, it reminded me of the first leg of the Luton play-off last season: we seemed to approach a wet Kenilworth Road pitch with trepidation, as if we’d never played after a bit of rain before, and were punished. Here, whether it was the bobbly pitch which sowed the seeds of doubt amongst our defenders or something else, we looked edgy, struggled to clear our lines and were lucky to only be punished once.

The amount of times defenders switched off surely had nothing to do with the conditions: the penalty came when Danny Alfei allowed his man to get in behind him, while Chis Westwood was looking inside, organising the back line, and failed to notice the ball had been thrown past him! They’re both vulnerable to strikers running directly at them, and as they make up the irght side of the back four, that makes us vulnerable as a team.

At the other end, though, we were consistently threatening. Adrian Cieslewicz was getting space and putting balls into the box, Danny Wright was left a little more isolated than usual but was typically bullish, and Joe Clarke drove forwards to occasional decent effect.

Our goal was a fine breakaway. Wright, scoring for a fourth consecutive match, got the praise for his finish, but Ciesleweicz deserved massive credit for his set-up play: he did brilliantly to hold the ball up, turn, stay up rather than go down and buy a free kick, and play a superb through ball to Wright.

Their goal, by way of contrast, was a fluke. Ironically, it was one of the situations we defended best: Newport got the ball down in the box from a set piece, but we pressed hard, Johnny Hunt did really well to keep tight to his man, force him away and block his shot, but when the ball fell loose Ashton’s legitimate block merely deflected the cruelly spinning ball into the top corner.

Still, you couldn’t argue Newport didn’t deserve a goal. In fact, they could have scored a few, and I was convinced the late header which hit the bar was in. We deserved a point for our spirit and attacking threat, but could easily have lost it. An away point from a tough derby and top of the league. Mustn’t grumble!

Wrexham (4-3-3): Mayebi; Alfei, Westwood, Riley, Ashton; Harris (Ogleby 65), Keates, Clarke; Cieslewicz (Rushton 86), D Wright, Hunt. Unused subs: Coughlin, Walker, Little.

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