Jags frustration in defeat at Willen Road
…with a final score that tells little of the match
After a cancellation due to icy weather last weekend, the Jags returned to league action, with Oakley the visitors to Willen Road. Since falling at home to the Jags earlier in the season, Oakley have become one of the form teams in the league, with a run of 8 games undefeated.
So, while a strong challenge expected, the final score was an unkind reflection of the game. Too easy to put blame entirely on the pitch, player injuries, the whistle - but it was certainly a day when little or nothing went the Jags’ way.
That said, congratulations Oakley for successfully executing their own game plan. Physically, the visitors were a very much bigger side and exploited that size and strength very effectively. Principally creating chances through the use of constant long balls, they then took their chances very well.
The opening moves looked very promising for Newport. From the very start, it was the Jags who took the initiative. Quick passing set up a chance in the first couple of minutes, with the Oakley goalkeeper making a good near-post save from Harry. Dylan also went close very shortly after and the Jags then appeared to have secured a certain penalty within a couple more minutes, as the opposition keeper seemingly “clattered” Dylan who was racing through into the box. With the Jags’ striker so unceremoniously grounded, Newport supporters expressed surprise and disappointment when play was waved on.
While there was much fine defensive work from Sam and Charlie, the visitors broke through midway through the first half - with a well placed shot to the bottom corner, just beyond Tom’s diving fingers. It says something about the balance of play that, up that point, the Newport keeper had relatively little to do.
As usual the Jags continued to create chances, but failed to convert - and the Oakley long ball became increasingly problematic for the home team. Indeed, the visitors went ahead 0-2, as a forward picked up another overhead ball and drove it home. A particularly cruel blow for the Jags, as the scorer was in an offside position, which some Oakley supporters were gracious enough to acknowledge.
A developing sense it was not Newport’s day was confirmed when, by contrast, Dylan then ran through the visitors’ defence and successfully netted, but with the goal ruled offside in what was an exceedingly tight call. Regrettably VAR not available…
Going in 0-2 down at Half-Time, the Jags were nevertheless still in the game and began attacking Oakley straight after the break. Pressure soon told, when Harry made a clean strike into the net, connecting with an incoming ball from a Jags’ corner. Playing with increasing confidence, Jags looked like securing a second and Theo in particular was unfortunate not to convert after a fine run through on goal.
Jags frustrating day continued though… Seo burst past three Oakley players in midfield, to make a pass that put Alex clean through on goal. However, with Seo tackled after the pass, the official stopped play, the Jags despairing that they had not been allowed the very clear advantage. Further misfortune followed as Alex later headed home only to find that, for a second time, a Jags score was ruled offside.
With Oakley back on the attack, the boys failed to clear properly and the lapse was punished, as the visitors took full advantage and scored their 3rd. Real end-to-end action - and one of Harry’s many skilful runs through the Oakley defence seemed to bear fruit as he was grounded in the box by a chasing defender. Once more the decision did not go Newport’s way.
Play then going back into the home side's half, it was game over when Oakley scored a 4th, after which the boys’ performance grew increasingly ragged and the game finished with an uncharacteristically downbeat Jags.
In fairness, it was far from a vintage Jags’ performance and certainly few of the team were at their very best. Against a capable, effective and clinical Oakley side, it couldn’t be said that Newport were entirely deserving of a win. However, the scoreline was a very poor reflection of the actual balance of possession and chances. With two goals ruled offside, two very strong penalty shouts not given and the opposition gifted an offside goal, the Newport boys were left to rue their many other missed opportunities when, on another day, they could easily have been 2 or 3 up after the first 10 minutes.
Man of the Match went to Charlie D who put in a real quality defensive performance. Some great tackles, very good distribution from the back and two vital last ditch clearances as the ball was rolling towards the net.
Player of the Month went to Billy - who the coaches praised for always demonstrating a really positive attitude at training and, on match days, is making an ever growing contribution to the Newport team.