Defeat For Pools At Newport County
Dave Jones tasted defeat on his first afternoon in the Pools dugout as Newport County enjoyed their first win since November at Rodney Parade on Saturday.
The new boss had opted to put out an unchanged starting eleven after seeing his charges beat Stevenage seven days ago, with Billy Paynter again missing with an Achilles problem and Nathan Thomas rested.
County groundstaff had worked hard to remove pools of water from the pitch during the morning after heavy overnight rain and referee Kevin Johnson declared it playable – though that was a matter up for debate and it was a surface always likely to make things difficult.
However, Pools began the game brightly and when the ball was well worked out to Lewis Alessandra on the left, he found a route inside to fire a low shot on goal which was held by keeper Joe Day.
Newport who began to settle the better as things developed and Liam Donnelly had to be alert to whack the ball after a delivery in to the box had caused problems.
The midfield area was particularly treacherous and Pools lost possession which allowed the hosts to pile forward again but, after shots from Ryan Bird and Craig Reid were both blocked, Mitchell Rose fired an effort wide.
Just before the quarter-hour mark Newport did make their pressure tell though; Reid hung a right-wing corner up to the far post where Bird rose to nod a debut goal from three yards.
The former Pools loan man could even have punished Dave Jones’ men further a couple of minutes later when he steamrollered his way through on the right side of the box but his powerful drive was blocked by Sean Kavanagh.
Pools began to improve as half time approached but struggled to engineer a genuine chance on goal; a looping shot from Oates which fell too high and a long-range effort from Kavanagh which also flew over the bar was as menacing as it got.
Jones’ men started the second period with more purpose and Oates almost got away through the middle only for Mark O’Brien to stretch out a leg and block his shot but it was a move which gave the travelling fans something to hang on to.
That hope was strained on 56 minutes though when Pools were again undone from a corner; again Reid delivered from the right and, when Nelson helped it back towards goal, Aaron Williams was there to head it in from close range for 2-0.
Reid could have then added a third moments later when he scampered on to a good ball over the top from Rose but the front man fired his shot over Adam Bartlett’s bar.
The closest Pools came was when substitute Connor Smith was found by a switch in play from Kavanagh and he teed up Oates only for his shot to be charged down by a defender.
With just less than twenty minutes left, County wrapped up their first win in thirteen games when Pools failed to fully clear another corner from the right and wing-back Dan Butler unleashed a looping volley from twenty yards which flew in to the top corner.
Liam Donnelly had a good shout for a penalty waved away after taking in the box following good work from Smith to set him up as Pools.
There was some consolation in injury time when Kavanagh floated an excellent ball in from the right and Amond beat the offside trap to convert his tenth goal of the season.
It was a rare moment of joy for Jones who will have perhaps learnt more about his players from this defeat than he did during victory over Stevenage last week.
Full Time: Newport County 3 Pools 1
Attendance: 2271 (103 Pools)
Newport County: Day, Pipe, Jones (Demetriou 82), O’Brien, Nelson, Butler, Bennett, Rose (Flynn 78), Williams (Samuel 86), Bird, Reid.
Subs Not Used: Sheehan, Bojaj, Rigg, Bittner.
Pools: Bartlett, Donnelly, Bates, Harrison, Kavanagh, Featherstone, Woods (Smith 55), Walker, Hawkins (Laurent 85), Oates (Amond 66), Alessandra.
Subs Not Used: Fryer, Martin, Richardson, Deverdics.