Newport City arrested their dismal run of four successive league defeats as they drew against Albion Rovers in what proved to be an entertaining local derby encounter at the Newport Stadium.
The Steelmen started strongly and were ahead in the 16th minute when Kareem Leigh latched on to a pass from Solomon Taylor St.Clair on the edge of the area, before firing a superb curling effort into the top corner of the net. However the hosts’ joy was short lived when a smart attacking move from Rovers saw Mark Millinship strike a sweetly taken shot from the edge of the area, leading to the ball smacking the right hand post before bouncing into the back of the net to level the score in the 25th minute.
Buoyed by the goal, the visitors almost scored again a minute later when Ieuan Evans chest controlled a cross by Mike Williams inside the area before seeing his close range shot grasped by City keeper Tom Pass. City came close on the half hour mark when St.Clair was sent through on goal following a neat interchange with Wood, but the left back was denied following a last ditch block by Gareth Bennett. Rovers responded in kind and came even closer to going ahead two minutes later when a pass into the area by Evans was connected by Williams who smashed a strike on to the crossbar.
The game continued to produce end to end drama as both sides chased a precious half time lead. A neat attacking move from the visitors saw Evans find himself through on goal for Rovers five minutes before the break, but the attacker saw his goal bound effort blocked by City skipper Andrew Muscat. The final moment of the half saw an acrobatic overhead effort by Leigh inside the six yard box turned round the left hand post by Rovers keeper Ian Vaughan, ensuring that a frenetic first half was left finely balanced.
The second half started the same way as the first half ended, with both sides relentlessly throwing a series of attacks. Pass had to be alert as he produced a couple of key saves from efforts by Williams and Jordan Tadman, while the latter also dragged an effort narrowly wide. City responded in kind as Wood and Leigh both forced Vaughan into important saves, while Muscat directed a header inches wide.
The Steelmen were eventually forced to rue the missed opportunities in the 74th following an uncharacteristic mistake by Pass. A 20 yard free kick strike from Millinship surprisingly slipped through the hands of Pass as the ball landed into the bottom left hand corner of the net, gifting the visitors the lead. However the game typically turned on its head just a minute later when City were awarded a penalty after St.Clair was adjudged to have been pulled down inside the area. Patrick Pope made no mistake by converting the resulting spot kick into the bottom right hand corner of the net to draw the hosts back level.
Rovers immediately threatened again as Pass managed to atone for his earlier error by superbly tipping a close rage sliding strike by Evans wide round the left hand post. Pass also denied Jake Clark who saw his opportunistic 25 yard effort grasped by the keeper, while Millinship also sent a curling effort from inside the area narrowly over the bar. City almost clinched the game in the dying minutes through Pope who agonisingly failed to connect on to Wicherer’s pass across the face of goal, while Chubb also dragged an effort narrowly wide past the left hand post in stoppage time as a pulsating encounter finished all square.
In what proved to be an enthralling encounter, City will be relieved to finally halt their recent barren run of consecutive defeats. Despite securing a deserved draw, questions still remain over whether or not City pull away from the danger zone as they remain winless in 2019. The next month will be key to their future next season as they battle through a critical series of games against fellow struggling sides at the foot of the league.
To read more about the fortunes of Newport City, visit y-ddraig.co.uk or follow @yddraigHQ on Twitter.