Duke the hero as Cobblers secure vital win at Newport

Matt Duke punches the ball away during the Cobblers' clash at Newport (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Matt Duke punches the ball away during the Cobblers' clash at Newport (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Darren Carter’s wonder strike and a late Matt Duke penalty save secured a precious win for the Cobblers at Newport County.

In what may now be enough to make caretaker boss Andy King a serious contender for the manager’s job, Town ran out 2-1 winners in a breathless encounter at Rodney Parade.

Newport v Northampton Town.

Newport v Northampton Town.

Everton loanee Hallam Hope gave a Northampton side ravaged by injury the lead only for his effort to be cancelled out by a Harry Worley header in first-half injury time.

But Carter, with his first goal for the club, and a superb Duke penalty stop, secured a massive win for the club.

Newport had enjoyed a good of half-chances when German ghosted in behind the defence to collect a long free-kick and find space for a cross-shot that squirmed over Lenny Pidgeley via a deflection and onto the bar.

With the spin on the ball, it could have gone anywhere but - unfortunately for the Cobblers - it dropped the wrong side of the goal-line and was battered away to safety.

Newport v Northampton Town.

Newport v Northampton Town.

There was little incident of any note until Hope’s goal, a well-taken effort at the second time of asking after he had been threaded in behind the defence by Chris Hackett.

Huge credit must go to Gary Deegan for his role in the build-up; he carried the ball 40 yards in central midfield and did not rush his pass to Hackett despite being under pressure.

Hope had another decent chance five minutes later when a Town counter-attack - which at one point was a two-against-one - ended with him hitting a tame shot straight at Pidgeley.

He spurned a third before half-time when he looked to loop a header into the far post after Antonio German had knocked Hackett’s deep cross up into the air.

Newport v Northampton Town.

Newport v Northampton Town.

Former Town loanee Danny Crow almost put Newport level when the ball broke his way in the box after a scramble but his shot was straight at Matt Duke, who stuck out an arm to block it away.

A more firmer save was required from Duke to keep out a strong Adam Chapman shot after a purposeful Newport burst down the right by wing-back David Pipe.

He then tipped away a Harry Worley header at a tight angle but the centre-back went one better in first-half stoppage-time with a firm header to level the scores.

Newport might have wished the first half never ended because they were well on top when they got their goal and it was no less than they deserved.

Newport v Northampton Town.

Newport v Northampton Town.

Three minutes after the restart, Northampton had the lead again when a corner was cleared only as far as Carter.

With plenty to do and on his weaker side, Carter drilled the ball home with superb technique and an almost matchless skill.

The next time the Cobblers were in the same position, Hackett bent in a devilish cross that Paul Reid met with expert timing but weak contact and the chance, as good as it was, was spurned.

Newport, though, built up a head of steam as the second half progressed.

Robbie Willmott had an effort well saved by Duke’s low hand from a perfect Pipe ball and substitute Ryan Burge dragged an effort wide after finding space behind the defence.

Their best chance to equalise came with two minutes to go when David Moyo was harshly penalised for what looked like no more than a coming-together with Lee Minshull on the very edge of the penalty box.

Newport v Northampton Town.

Newport v Northampton Town.

The decision was very harsh on Town but Duke pulled off a superb one-handed save to keep out Andy Sandell’s spot-kick, which was hit hard and low into the right-hand corner.

Newport: Pidgeley, Worley, Yakubu, Naylor, Pipe, Chapman, Flynn, Sandell, Jolley, Crow, Willmott

Subs: Washington (for Jolley 65), Minshull (for Flynn 65), Burge (for Yakubu 71)

Not used: Porter, James, Jackson, Oshilaja

Cobblers: Duke, Amankwaah, Reid, Collins, Tozer, Hackett, Deegan, Carter, Emerton, Hope, German

Subs: Moyo (for Emerton 27), Harriott (for Hope 77), Toney (for German 88)

Not used: Demontagnac, Hooper, Roberts, Heath

Attendance: 3,864

Away fans: 313