Newport City’s unbeaten pre-season record came to end following a shock 2-0 defeat against South Wales Alliance Premier Division side Canton Liberals at the Cardiff International Sports Campus.
City started the opening ten minutes strongly and came close to scoring twice through Kareem Leigh and Andy Coleman who both forced the Liberals keeper into making important saves. The missed opportunities proved costly as the hosts counter attacked and struck a close range finish past City keeper Tsvetan Pateev, handing the Liberals a lead against the run of play in the 11th minute. The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of City who were lucky not to be further behind soon afterwards when Pateev ran out of the penalty area, but the Liberals saw a chipped effort drift narrowly wide past the left hand post.
The Steelmen eventually responded midway through the first half as Nathan Doe, Andy Coleman and James Hill all sent threatening efforts narrowly wide of goal. Meanwhile a free kick from Patrick Pope was parried by the Liberals keeper before the rebound was scrambled away to safety. Another counter attacking move shortly before the break from the Liberals almost led to their second goal as they broke into the area with only the keeper to beat, but the hosts saw an effort hit the right hand post.
The Steelmen re-started the game with intent and came close to equalising through Fetahi and Wood, who both saw decent goal bound opportunities blocked. City came even closer to levelling on the hour mark when Coleman’s close range strike was saved by the Liberals keeper before the rebound was agonisingly smashed on to the crossbar by Doe.
The hosts weathered the storm and almost doubled their lead shortly afterwards when Andrew Muscat was forced into a goal line clearance after Pateev had once again ran out of his area. The latter also produced another couple of saves as the hosts continued to apply the pressure. The Liberals were eventually rewarded for their efforts in the 67th minute as another smart counter attack saw them clean through on goal and led to them doubling their lead with a nice composed finish past the helpless Pateev.
The second goal seemed to kill the game off as a contest as City’s heads dropped. The hosts almost trebled their lead as Pateev was once again called into another big save inside the area, while a couple of opportunities drifted narrowly wide of goal. City eventually responded in the final ten minutes through Martyn Mickiewicz who rattled the bar from 30 yards, while Coleman also saw a 20 yards strike drift over the bar. The Liberals almost grabbed their third goal in stoppage time after a curling effort from the edge of the area cannoned off the crossbar moment before the final whistle.
Overall is was a disappointing night for City as they suffered their first pre-season defeat. While increasing the fitness levels remained the priority, there will be plenty of points for the side to learn from the defeat with the new season only a matter of days away.