Newport City bounced back from last week’s disappointing defeat against Penrhiwceiber Rangers as they returned to winning ways with a hard fought 2-1 victory at Pontyclun in a match that was played in difficult conditions.
City immediately came racing out of the blocks and were ahead in the opening couple of minutes when an assist by Kareem Leigh was met by Mark Dunford who tucked the ball into the back of the net from close range. The goal woke up the hosts as they pressurised City’s back line and almost levelled 10 minutes later through James Gronow who saw his effort whistle narrowly wide past the left hand post. Pontyclun continued to threaten and came close again five minutes later when Connor Berry fired a low strike from the edge of the left hand area, but City ‘keeper Nicholas King was equal to the effort. City responded well and almost doubled their lead just a minute later when a cross into the six yard box by Mark Dunford narrowly evaded the head of Jordan Chubb.
The reminder of the first half turned out to be a highly niggly affair as physical challenges dominated proceedings which led to the game being disturbed by a series of knocks to the players, while both sides also struggled to cope with the poor condition of the pitch. The hosts ended the half strongly as they delivered a series of threatening set pieces and crosses into City’s penalty area and came close to scoring ten minutes before the interval through a strong header from Tom Tweedy which was gathered well by King. King was called into action again on the stroke of half time as he quickly raced out to claim the ball from the feet of Jamie Williams inside the six yard box and preserved City’s lead as they entered the interval.
Pontyclun started the second half strongly and applied relentless amount of pressure as they searched for an equaliser. The hosts came close to scoring through Aled Davies, Harry Flint and Tomos Tweedy who all saw their efforts drift narrowly wide of goal, whilst Joel Woodington forced a strong save from King. The hosts’ pressure did eventually pay off on the hour mark when Gronow managed to cut into the penalty area from the right hand side and fired a low shot into the back of the net to level the score.
City however responded magnificently to the setback and were back in front just three minutes later through fortuitous circumstances when an attempted clearance by Pontyclun ‘keeper James Billington inside the six yard box bounced off Bernardin Fetahi and looped into the back of net. Encouraged by the goal, the Steelmen grew in confidence and came close to extending their lead soon after through Martin Mickiewicz who saw a well struck shot from just outside the area gathered Billington. Chubb came even closer to scoring just a minute later as he found himself free near the six yard box, but the midfielder managed to miss kick the ball and fired wide past the right hand post.
City were almost made to pay for the missed opportunities during the closing stages of the game when Pontyclun laid a series of threatening attacks as they chased another equalizer. The hosts almost levelled in the 82nd minute when a low shot from the edge of the box by Tweedy was tipped round the right hand post by King. From the following corner, City struggled to clear their lines as the ball fell kindly to Tweedy inside the area but the midfielder smashed his effort over the bar. The hosts continued to push hard and came very close to securing a draw in stoppage time when Berry forced King into a fine save, much to the relief of the Steelmen who eventually managed to seal a scrappy victory.
Overall it was a welcome victory for Newport City as they showed immense character to withstand the constant pressure exerted by Pontyclun. The aim will now be for City to maintain a form of consistency by going on a strong run and steadily climb up the table.
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