Report: Exeter City 0 Newport 2
Exeter City’s perfect home record in Sky Bet League 2 was ended at the hands of Newport County AFC, as the Exiles triumphed 2-0 at St James Park.
Conor Washington drilled in an opener midway through the first period, and despite chances being created by both sides in the meantime, it wasn’t until the 72nd minute that the Exiles sealed the win through a Harry Worley strike.
Sam Parkin was the notable omission for the Grecians, with a hamstring niggle keeping him sidelined. John O'Flynn, last weekend's match-winner, was named as the replacement.
David Wheeler also returned to the starting XI after beginning on the bench against Northampton Town.
Billy Jones and Lenny Pidgeley, both former Grecians, are named amongst the starters for the visitors, while Chris Zebroski, known well in the South West including for a spell with Torquay United, lead the line with Washington beginning alongside him.
On a muggy, sticky afternoon, the fixture started at a frantic pace with chances being created at both end within the first five minutes. After scoring in the last minute at Northampton, O’Flynn chanced his arm at scoring in the first against Newport – he chested down a clearance and hit a looping volley, which flew just wide of Pidgeley’s goal.
From the resultant goal-kick, the Exiles broke well and Washington jinked a turned, and a lot shot deflected off the outstretched leg of Danny Coles and behind for a corner.
Back at the other end, Alan Gow had two strikes at goal in quick succession from a similar position after cutting in off the right. Both were down the throat of Pidgeley – though the stopper grabbed the latter effort at the second attempt with O’Flynn bearing down.
The Grecians were looking much the more dynamic, and some smart link-up play between the strikers and midfielders were opening gaps at will at times – though the all-important goal was looking elusive.
And the hosts had reason to be thankful initially that Zebroski was wasteful when presented with a great opportunity to take the lead. A defensive header by centre-half Scot Bennett intended for Artur Krysiak was a touch underplayed and the former Torquay tried to loop it into the net – but instead it flew wide of the post.
But midway through the first period, the Grecians did find themselves behind as Washington opened the scoring. It was a long-throw by Adam Chapman that put the pressure on the defence, and when the ball was only helped into the path of the Washington, who needed no invitation to thrash a strike across goal and into the net.
The travelling fans were buoyant as they went ahead against the run of play, but it didn’t perturb the home side who were still trying to work the ball and open the door. Gow in particular was finding space with ease in between the lines and pulling the strings.
Liam Sercombe was also supporting the attack well with some snappy play and he tried to catch out his former teammate Pidgeley with a strike from the best part of 30 yards. The stopper was at full stretch to deny the midfielder his first goal of the season.
And Gow and O’Flynn were combining well up top for City – the Scotsman hit a nice strike from outside the area which took a touch off a defending player’s shin as it flew over the bar.
The best chance of note for the Exiles to double their lead before the break came as Washington latched onto a loose ball forward and hit on the turn but it cleared the bar comfortably.
Half-time: Exeter City 0 Newport County AFC 1
The Exiles started the second period with a little more oomph than they did in the first and Robbie Willmott, so often the threat for Newport, drew an athletic save from Krysiak after working some space 25 yards from goal.
And the width of the post denied Michael Flynn a second for Newport after he hit a first-time strike from a Zebroski nod-down. It struck the post firmly and bounced back into play.
The Grecians were having to work hard to make advances into opposition territory, and it was a route-one ball that nearly opened things up for them. Craig Woodman played a beautiful strafing ball into the path of O’Flynn, but the angle was just a little too tight for the Irishman and he hit the side-netting from the left.
But soon enough the Exiles had their second after some bright play down the City right. It was Washington that turned provider as he darted to the byline and swung one over – it found Worley at the back stick who took a touch to steady himself before drilling an effort into the roof of the net at his near post.
Looking to cut the arrears, Paul Tisdale made some subs to allow Bennett to support the attack – and it was Jamie Reid from the bench that looked to provide for Bennett with a low cross from the left. It needed an intervention by Yakubu to maintain a two-goal cushion for the visitors, although the defender was left prostrate for his troubles.
And it was Bennett who once again was involved as he teed up Matt Oakley after cutting inside off the right, but the midfielder’s shot spun high over the crossbar with Pidgeley untroubled.
Bennett was proving an adept target at the top end of the field. A drilled cross from the right was chested by Bennett into the path of Sercombe, but he got under his effort on the volley and cleared the bar.
And even when Bennett latched onto a dissecting ball by Oakley and rounded the goalkeeper, Worley got back to deny the City man a stoppage-time consolation by blocking out from a tight angle.
Full-time: Exeter City 0 Newport County AFC 2
Exeter City: Krysiak; Baldwin, Bennett, Coles, Woodman; Wheeler (Keohane 62), Oakley, Sercombe, Davies (Moore-Taylor 72); Gow (Reid 72), O’Flynn.
Subs (not used): Pym, Doherty, Dawson, Grimes.
Newport County AFC: Pidgeley; Pipe, Worley, Yakuku, Hughes, Jones (James 46); Chapman, Flynn, Willmott (Naylor 69); Washington, Zebroski (Crow 77).
Subs (not used): Stephens, Burge, Jackson.
Goals: Washington (23), Naylor (72).
Attendance: 4,614 (861 away)
Referee: D. Bond