Late Cobblers fightback not enough at Newport

Lawson D'Ath strikes at goal during the Cobblers' league clash at Newport (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
Lawson D'Ath strikes at goal during the Cobblers' league clash at Newport (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
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The Cobblers almost stole a point from Newport County with a late comeback but came out on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline at Rodney Parade.

The match looked over as a contest when Lee Minshull headed home midway through the second half to give Newport what appeared to be an unassailable 3-0 lead.

Newport County V Cobblers. NNL-140913-172425009

Newport County V Cobblers. NNL-140913-172425009

Even when Lawson D’Ath scored an excellent solo goal with 14 minutes to go, you still got the impression it would be little more than a consolation.

But when Marc Richards headed in his fourth goal in three matches it set up a frantic finish, with the home side suddenly becoming nervous and Northampton sensing that uncertainty.

However, they came up short and were sent home pointless, having paid the price for a slow start to the game that lasted for more than a hour.

A thigh injury was enough to force Matt Duke out of the starting 11 and onto the bench, with Jordan Archer given his league debut in goal.

Newport County V Cobblers. NNL-140913-174318009

Newport County V Cobblers. NNL-140913-174318009

Injury led to another change for Northampton, with Kaid Mohamed ruled out with a cut foot and Darren Carter taking his place on the left of midfield.

Shorn of those players, Town made a slow start to the game and Newport should have gone ahead after 12 minutes when Mark Byrne sidefooted wide after collecting a square pass from Robbie Willmott, who had been picked out on the left wing by Chris Zebroski’s cross.

The home side did not have to wait long to take the lead, however, with Ryan Jackson’s explosive pace at right wing-back creating an opening down that flank and the ball eventually finding its way - via a number of deflections - to Zebroski, whose contact was not clean but enough to put the ball past Archer’s left hand and into the far corner.

Town worked hard to get back into the game and Joe Day produced a fine one-handed save to keep out an Ivan Toney volley on the turn from Joel Byrom’s clipped pass into him.

Newport County V Cobblers. NNL-140913-173956009

Newport County V Cobblers. NNL-140913-173956009

But the second goal came 10 minutes before half-time and it will be no consolation to the Cobblers that it was a fortunate one, centre-back Darren Jones’ speculative shot taking a deflection off Ryan Cresswell that meant it flew past the helpless Archer in goal.

At 2-0 down, changes had to be made and risks had to be taken. A double half-time substitution was made, with Danny Alfei and John-Joe O’Toole, a goalscorer against Newport for Bristol Rovers last season, replacing both full-backs, Ben Tozer and Gregor Robertson.

The switch meant Joel Byrom, so influential in central midfield at Dagenham, played as a makeshift left-back for the second half but it was all to no avail.

Ryan Watson conceded a free-kick in a fairly innocuous position and it was played into an area where two Newport players attacked it - one of which, Adam Minshull, delivered the telling blow past Archer.

Newport County V Cobblers. NNL-140913-172435009

Newport County V Cobblers. NNL-140913-172435009

It should never have been so, because the offside trap was set but Darren Carter did not stay in line, and his poor positioning proved costly.

The Cobblers were never likely to get into the game from such a position but they gave their supporters something to cheer with D’Ath’s excellent solo goal, a mazy dribble which ended with a firm left-footed shot past Day.

Such was its quality, even the home supporters applauded it, although they might not have been so gracious had the scoreline been different.

The applause turned to concern when Richards headed in Alfei’s inch-perfect cross from the right wing to set up the proverbial grandstand finish.

Sensing a point that would have been undeserved, Town threw Cresswell forward as a centre-forward in a 3-4-3 system and began to mount wave after wave of pressure.

Alfei failed to connect with a shot at the back post after Cresswell had headed a deep D’Ath cross into his path and O’Toole saw a tame header held with some comfort by Day.

Newport County V Cobblers.

Newport County V Cobblers.

It was the closest they would come to rescuing something from the game.

Newport: Day; Feely, Jones, Hughes; Jackson, Minshull, Byrne, Chapman, Willmott; O’Connor, Zebroski

Subs: Pigott (for O’Connor 64), Sandell (for Jackson 68), Klukowski (for Chapman 77)

Not used: Pidgeley, Parker, Flynn, Jolley

Cobblers: Archer; Tozer, Diamond, Cresswell, Robertson; Hackett, Byrom, Watson, Carter; Toney, Richards

Subs: Alfei (for Tozer 46), O’Toole (for Robertson 46), D’Ath (for Watson 71)

Not used: Duke, Collins, Ravenhill, Moyo

Attendance: 2,875