Newport City made a welcome return to competitive action for the first time in 15 months as they hosted Caerleon AFC in the Welsh Cup first qualifying round. Spurred on by a crowd of up to 100 spectators, City produced a dominant display as they secured a well-earned victory and progressed to the next round.
Following a cagey opening quarter, the Steelmen took control of the game and frequently threatened the opposition goal as they visitors struggled to deal with the hosts’ relentless crosses and aerial threat. Gianluca Palladino, Sedric Lokola and Carlos Idjai all sent efforts narrowly wide of goal, while Kofi Rowe dragged a close range shot into the side netting. City skipper Martyn Mickiewicz saw his strike from the edge of the area grasped by Caerleon keeper James Rayner, while the latter also blocked another close-range effort at the near post from Rowe.
City’s relentless pressure however finally paid off when they took a deserved lead on the half hour mark. The opening goal came after Caerleon failed to clear a Palladino free kick delivery inside the area, eventually presenting Dean Clifford the opportunity to successfully fire into the back of the net from 6 yards out. Buoyed by the goal, City almost immediately extended their lead through Rowe who powered a header from 5 yards against the bar; while the striker also dragged another shot just wide past the left post.
The Steelmen did eventually double their advantage five minutes before the break, when a Jack Wheeler cross into the area was connected by Clifford who registered his second goal of the day by smashing an unstoppable effort into the back of the net from 8 yards out. City almost added a third shortly before half time when Joel Queni saw his header saved by Rayner, while Rowe curled a chance narrowly wide past the left post.
City restated the game on fire and almost went further ahead through Clifford and Idjai who both saw key opportunities drift narrowly wide of goal, while Rory Price’s audacious 30-yard strike was saved by Rayner. The visitors however finally registered their first meaningful attempt on goal on the hour mark, but Nicholas Potts curled his effort from the edge of the area well wide past the right post.
Rayner was called into action again as the visitors’ keeper was forced into a number of saves from Rowe, Idjai, Palladino and City substitute Jacob Fortt. Price and Rowe also struck a couple of good chances wide past the posts, while Potts skied a consolation effort for the visitors high over the bar. The Steelmen ultimately managed to secure the win easily enough; and will rightly feel proud of their efforts as they look to build up the momentum ahead of the league season.
Newport City Starting Line-up:
Shay O’Grady (GK), Jack Wheeler, Gianluca Palladino, Carlos Indjai, Joel Queni, Martyn Mickiewicz (C), Sedric Lokola (Sub: Fortt), Rory Price, Dean Clifford (Sub: Wigley) , Kofi Rowe, Dean Powell (Sub: Muscat)
Tsvetan Pateev, Andrew Muscat, Andrew Wigley, Jack Whiting, Jacob Fortt