Following their superb comeback victory against Chepstow Town just three days earlier, Newport City were immediately dragged right back down to earth after a disappointing 2-1 home defeat Penrhiwceiber Rangers.
In what turned out to be a tight and scrappy opening 20 affair, the visitors had the first meaningful opportunity in the 10th minute when Joe Jenkins broke into the penalty area from the right but fired his effort wide over the bar. City eventually responded and briefly threatened in the 20th minute when a Robbie James cross into the six yard box was met by the head of Mark Dunford who failed to hit the target as the ball glanced harmlessly away from goal. City were soon made to pay for the missed opportunity just a minute later when Rangers Midfielder Lance Evans rose to a long upfield cross into the area and planted a header into the top right hand corner, putting the visitors ahead.
City immediately attempted to pull themselves back into the game as Dunford tried his luck from five yards outside the penalty area, but saw his strike fly wide over the bar. The visitors responded by twice coming close to extending their lead towards the end of the half as Jenkins and Andrew Ellis saw efforts flash narrowly wide of goal.
A moment of controversy took place on the stroke of half time when Kareem Leigh was sent through clear on goal before being stopped in his tracks after colliding heavily with the onrushing Rangers ‘keeper Clint Forbes just outside the area. Having seemingly denied a clear goal scoring opportunity, the Steelmen were left visibly shocked when the referee decided to only produce a yellow card to Forbes for the collision. The decision only served to rub salt into the City’s wounds as Forbes saved the resulting free kick from Bernardin Fetahi, leaving the hosts frustrated as they once again entered the interval behind.
City were clearly fired up by the first half controversy as they started the second half strongly, and this paid dividends as they got back on level terms on the hour mark. A free kick delivery into the penalty area from Fetahi was met by Dunford who headed straight at Forbes, but the rebound fell kindly to the feet of Leigh who made no mistake by firing home the rebound from close range. The goal seemed to spark life into the Steelmen as Leigh came close to scoring a second three minutes later with a 30 yard effort which dipped narrowly wide of goal.
The visitors eventually responded to the hosts’ pressure during the following ten minutes with a couple of threatening headers by Jenkins which were both saved by City ‘keeper Nicholas King. City came close to going ahead in the 73rd minute after neat play by hosts almost sent James through on goal, but the midfielder saw the ball cleared away from his feet just as he was about to pull the trigger. City continued to apply the pressure and went close after Leigh and substitute Aaron Carew both sent headers narrowly wide of goal.
A draw seemed to be on the cards as the game entered the closing stages, but there was to be a cruel twist of fate in store. As the game entered the final minute, Rangers striker Brandon Davies was sent through clear on goal inside the penalty area, and smashed the ball low into the bottom left hand corner of the net clinching the win for the visitors.
Overall it was a very disappointing day for Newport City as they failed to match the euphoria of their comeback victory against Chepstow Town. Fatigue played a key part as the efforts produced against Chepstow eventually caught up with the side, with tired legs being evident against Rangers. City will need to put this heartbreaking defeat quickly behind them as they aim to bounce back at Pontyclun this weekend.
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